U.S. ambassador postpones debut in Canada
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, left, swears in Kelly Knight Craft as the U.S. ambassador to Canada, with her husband Joe Craft at her side, in the Kentucky governor’s mansion on Friday, August 18, 2017. (Handout / CTV News)
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft is postponing her Canadian debut as last minute “obligations” have delayed her initial arrival of September 12.
Sources cite one reason for the delay is to arrange a ceremonial swearing in by Vice President Mike Pence, with other high ranking Republicans in attendance. This is now likely to happen in late September due to the VP’s busy travel schedule and the Congressional calendar.
Kelly and Joe Craft at the Washington, D.C. home of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, after Kelly Craft’s Senate Confirmation hearings.
There is also buzz in Washington that Craft and her husband Joe are planning to host a send-off soirée with many GOP powerbrokers expected on the private invite list.
After sailing through her confirmation hearings in the Republican-controlled Senate last month, Craft took the Oath of Office at the Kentucky governor’s mansion on August 18, surrounded by family and friends. Gov. Matt Bevin, a personal friend, became a notary public specifically to administer the Oath.
At the time, Craft told CTV News she aimed to present her credentials in Quebec City on September 12, but officials have postponed it by a month or so.
A senior White House source told CTV News the administration wanted to ensure Craft was “in place” as sensitive talks with Canada and Mexico to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement get underway.
And Craft may have her work cut out for her: earlier this week, President Donald Trump threatened to “start the process to terminate” NAFTA before the second of talks begin. A move Canada shrugged off, but rebuked sharply by Mexico.
“I believe that you will probably have to start the termination process before a fair deal can be arrived at because it’s been a one-sided deal,” he said Monday. “This includes Canada, by the way.”
The second round of talks begin Friday in Mexico City, and sources say Ottawa is planning to host a round on September 23.
Craft and her husband Joe are top Republican Party donors and close friends with its powerful players including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Pence.
Craft serves on the Board of Trustees of her alma mater, the University of Kentucky. An online biography states that she was appointed by then-president George W. Bush in 2007 to serve as part of the U.S. Delegation to the United Nations, where she advised the U.S. Ambassador to the UN on issues including engagement in Africa.