President Barack Obama isconsidering nominating Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief ofVogue, to be either his next ambassador to the U.K. orFrance, as he looks to reward his biggest fundraisers withembassies that never seemout of fashion, according to two people familiar with the
Wintour, 63, may have some competition for the Londonposting, with Matthew Barzun, the finance chairman ofObamas presidential campaign, also interested in the job,officially known as ambassador to the Court of St. Jamess,said the people, whorequested anonymity.
Both Wintour and Barzun were among Obamas biggestbundlers in the campaign, with each raising more than$500,000 to help re-elect the president. Marc Lasry, themanaging partner and founder of Avenue CapitalManagement, covets the Paris embassy,said the people.
As Obama considers how to reshape his national securityteam, with nominations for secretary of state and defensecoming as soon as this week, he also will be tending to hispolitical organization. In January, he will install FloridaRepresentativeDebbie Wasserman Schultz for another cycle as the partyschairwoman, according to a Democratic Party official. Hisfundraisers are preparing to solicit donations for hisinauguration party, which cost almost $45 million four yearsago.
Louis Susman, the current U.S. envoy to the U.K., was aChicago based investment banker and bundler for Obamascampaign in 2008 before becoming ambassador. LikeObamas other political ambassadorial appointees,Pittsburgh Steelers football teamowner Dan Rooney, who is serving in Ireland, and CharlesRivkin, the former chief executive of Muppets creator JimHenson Co., who is posted in France, Susman isnt expectedto stay for a second term, the people said.
Wintour, born in the U.K. and now a U.S. citizen, is amongObamas top 10 fundraisers, two of the people said. She co-hosted a $40,000 plate event in June at actress Sarah JessicaParkers house. Then in August, she hosted a Connecticutdinner thatcost $35,800 per person at the home of movie executiveHarvey Weinstein.
Megan Salt, a spokeswoman for Vogue, said Wintour isntinterested in a diplomatic post. Shes very happy with hercurrent job, Salt said.Advance Publications Inc. is theparent of Vogue publisher Conde Nast.
The White House declined to comment, as did Lasry ofAvenue Capital Management. Barzun, a former U.S.ambassador to Sweden who formerly was an executive atCNET Networks Business Technology, couldnt immediatelybe reached for comment.
Rewarding donors with ambassadorships is a staple of thepresidency, and Obamas picks are slightly above the 30percent average for envoys drawn from outside the careerforeign service, said Susan Johnson, the president of theAmerican ForeignService Association. In his first term, Obama nominated 59ambassadors, including 40 bundlers, who lacked experiencein the diplomatic corps.
When he ran for election in 2008, on several occasions,Obama declared his intent to appoint more career people,and that has not actually happened, said Johnson. Ourexpectations were lifted, only to be dashed by reality.
Wintour is clearly an intelligent, energetic, capable,attractive, elegant person, Johnson said, but havingexperience in the practice of diplomacy and internationalrelations is really a great advantage.
Ambassadors positions in most Western Europeancapitals, come with some of the cities grandest residences,and London is no exception. Sold to the U.S. government for$1 by Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton after World WarII, the official residencehas a sweeping lawn that leads into Regents Park.
Obama held his first meeting with Chinese President HuJintao at Winfield house in April of 2009 and hosted QueenElizabeth II and Prince Philip for a banquet there as part ofthe presidents state visit to the U.K. in May 2011.