By Doug Palmer
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - White House international economic affairs adviser Mike Froman is considered the top candidate for U.S. Trade Representative, but pressure on President Barack Obama to fill his second term Cabinet with more women and minorities could lead to a different decision.
Two business officials said they expected Froman to get the job, but the White House has not signaled that a decision has been made.
U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, an African-American, said last year he did not intend to serve a second term, but he has not said when he will leave.
The White House and USTR declined comment on the timing of an announcement for the top U.S. trade post.
Froman, a former Citicorp executive who has known Obama since they worked together on the Harvard Law Review, is viewed by many in the business community as the most likely successor.
Kirk and Froman have collaborated over the past four years, a period marked by stalemate in world trade talks and prolonged U.S. deliberation over three free trade agreements from former President George W. Bush's administration.
Froman played an instrumental role in negotiations that led to congressional approval of the South Korea, Colombia and Panama pacts during Obama's third year in office.
He is well-known in diplomatic circles for his work in the Group of 20 and other international forums.
Earlier this week, Obama was forced to defend his record on appointing women and minorities, after nominating four men for high-power posts: CIA director and the secretaries of State, Treasury and Defense.
He urged critics to wait "until they've seen all my appointments, who's in the White House staff and who's in my Cabinet, before they rush to judgment."
One Democratic strategist said he believed that Froman would be an excellent choice for the job, but was beginning to wonder if Obama might be tempted to appoint a woman. Continued...