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Rudd versus Trump stoush could force ‘difficult decisions’ if former president is reelected

Source: X/GBN News

Kevin Rudd’s criticism of “destructive” Donald Trump may put Australia in an awkward position, after the former president said the current ambassador to America “will not be there for long” if Trump is reelected in November.

Brexit campaigner-turned-broadcaster Nigel Farage raised Rudd’s criticism of Trump in an interview at the behest of Sky News Australia.

“I don’t know much about him, I heard he was a little bit nasty,” Trump said.

“I hear he’s not the brightest bulb, but I don’t know much about him, but if he’s at all hostile, he will not be there long.”

Rudd has called Trump nuts, a traitor to the West and destructive during and after his presidency, before becoming Australia’s ambassador to the United States last year.

David Smith, associate professor in American politics and foreign policy at the University of Sydney, said if Trump does win a second term in November, Rudd and the Australian government will have to make “difficult decisions”.

“Trump and people around him are saying that if he becomes the president, he’s going to completely clean house in government,” he said.

“Even though it’d be possible for Rudd to repair relations with Trump, the Australian government may worry that all these Trump loyalists that he brings in would be hostile to him.”

A second term

Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong reaffirmed Rudd had the Albanese government’s full support.

“Rudd is a very effective ambassador, he is recognised across this Parliament as doing an excellent job,” she said.

“His experience means that he will be able to work closely with whoever is elected by the American people.”

Rudd was contacted for comment.

Smith said a former United Kingdom ambassador, Kim Darroch, experienced a similar relationship breakdown with Trump after critical comments in diplomatic cables were made public.

“Even though the UK government supported him continuing as ambassador, Darroch himself decided to step down because he worried that Trump’s staff didn’t want to deal with him,” Smith said.

“Trump is so big on enforcing loyalty that Darroch felt it’d be quite hard to get meetings with Trump’s staff.”

Polling in the United States, where Trump will face President Joe Biden in a rematch of their 2020 contest, has the two neck and neck, although Trump is facing dwindling access to money as criminal charges bank up and donations dry up.

International relations

Smith said the relationship between the United States and Australia normally doesn’t dramatically change between presidencies.

“The relationship between the ambassador and the president is only a very small part of Australia-US relations,” he said.

“AUKUS is a good example of that: it was originally proposed during the Morrison government and really confirmed during the Albanese government.”

Smith pointed to the relationships between trade departments, members of Congress and parliamentarians, and educational institutions as examples of stability over time.

Rudd previously defended his comments when questioned.

“I’ve been in this town on and off for the last 30 years. I have bucket loads of Republican friends and bucket loads of Democrat friends,” he said.

“I’m pretty confident those relationships have not only continued but will be sustained and strengthened.”

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd defended his comments about Trump when previously asked. Photo: AAP

Smith said despite the stability of United States’ relations with Australia, Trump isn’t a normal president.

“When Trump left office in the wake of January 6, 2021, a lot of people were saying things like that because Trump was blatantly violating democratic norms,” Smith said.

“A lot of those people will be in a position to deal with Trump, so the question is how many people can Trump possibly freeze out or hold a grudge against.”

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