FOCUS: Who Might Surround Trump in Key Positions

WASHINGTON (McClatchy Washington Bureau/TNS) -
 In this composite image, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (L), and U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., wear "Make Mexico Great Again Also" hats prior to Donald Trump's speech during a campaign rally at the Phoenix Convention Center on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Matt York)

In this composite image, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (L) and Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., wear “Make Mexico Great Again Also” hats prior to Donald Trump’s speech during a campaign rally at the Phoenix Convention Center. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Did Donald Trump’s acceptance speech preview who will surround him at the White House?

Here’s a look at who he praised and who stood with him through all the campaign trials:

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus

In his acceptance speech, Trump called him “an unbelievable star.” Trump campaign staffers are touting the 44-year-old Wisconsinite for the post of White House chief of staff. He speaks with Trump almost daily and traveled often with Trump on the campaign.

Priebus, who’s been chair of the Republican National Committee for six years, had tried hard to erase the party’s image of intolerance, launching an ambitious program to attract younger voters and minorities after Mitt Romney’s defeat in 2012. Trump, however, did little to help Priebus overcome that image.

He’s credited with helping Trump stay on message in the campaign’s final weeks and helped manage his campaign’s ground and financial operations.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., is believed to be a top choice for secretary of state. Like Trump, Gingrich shocked the political world when he helped lead Republicans in the House of Representatives to power in 1994 after more than four decades as the minority party, powered by a “Contract with America” that he helped write.

He helped pass the first balanced budget since 1969 and worked with then-President Bill Clinton to revamp the nation’s welfare system. But the bombastic speaker was also blamed for the 1995 partial government shutdown. He led the effort to impeach Clinton after he allegedly lied to a grand jury.

Elected to the House in 1978, Gingrich resigned from Congress in 1999 after House Republicans suffered losses in midterm elections. He unsuccessfully ran for president in 2012.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani

Giuliani seems to have the inside track to run the Justice Department. During some of Trump’s toughest moments he would be the rare campaign surrogate to defend him on news shows.

A pugnacious former federal prosecutor, Giuliani, 72, became a Republican darling as mayor of heavily Democratic New York in 1994. His political star rose higher after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

His handling of the tragedy earned him the nickname nationally of “America’s Mayor.” But his star appeared to fade after his 2008 presidential campaign flamed out. The former two-term mayor raised eyebrows for over-the-top statements he made about the Clintons, President Barack Obama and Democrats while touting Trump.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

Two-term governor Christie, head of Trump’s transition team, could also receive consideration for attorney general.

But his prospects may be hampered after two of his former top gubernatorial aides were convicted of trying to extract revenge against a New Jersey Democratic politician by closing traffic lanes to deliberately cause a jam on New York/New Jersey’s busy George Washington Bridge.

Sen. Jeff Sessions

Sessions, a Republican senator from Alabama, is believed to be a top choice for secretary of defense. The 69-year-old junior senator was one of Trump’s earliest backers on Capitol Hill. He has been a vocal critic of comprehensive immigration legislation.

He’s a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, but his roots are in law. He’s a former U.S. attorney and was nominated for a federal judgeship in 1985. But his nomination was derailed by Senate liberals, including the late Sen. Edward Kennedy who called Sessions “a throwback to a shameful era” on race issues. The nomination never made it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He was elected to the Senate in 1996.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn

Flynn, 57, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, is another option for secretary of defense. He has Trump’s ear on national security matters and was reportedly on his vice presidential shortlist.

He is highly respected in military intelligence. Outspoken and brash, he was forced out from the DIA in 2014. He said he was fired because he clashed with the Obama administration on what to call U.S. enemies.

“I am certain that we cannot win this war unless we are free to call our enemies by their proper names: radical jihadis, failed tyrants, and so forth,” he told the New York Post.

Flynn would require a waiver from Congress as the law requires that a defense secretary must be seven years removed from active duty. He could also become Trump’s national security adviser.

Retired Army Gen. J. Keith Kellogg Jr.

Kellogg, 67, a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, is also a defense secretary possibility.

Kellogg served as chief of staff for Fort Bragg’s 82nd Airborne Division during Operation Desert Shield/Storm from 1990 to 1991. He retired from the Army in 2003 after serving as the director of command, control, communications and computers for U.S. forces under the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

He has also worked at Oracle and Virginia-based CACI International, an information technology company that’s a contractor for defense, intelligence and homeland security agencies. He also served as senior vice president of ground combat programs at Cubic Defense Applications, based in San Diego.

Dr. Ben Carson

Given his medical background, Carson would appear to be a strong candidate to lead Health and Human Services. After dropping out of the presidential race, Carson actively campaigned for Trump, chastised him when his rhetoric became too heated, and served as a bridge to the African-American and evangelical communities.

In 1987, Carson became the first surgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins joined at the head.

He became a hero among conservatives for the blistering criticism of the Affordable Care Act during the 2013 Values Voter Summit, a gathering of pro-family conservatives.

“You know, Obamacare is, really, I think the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery,” said Carson, who’s African-American. “It is slavery in a way, because it is making all of us subservient to the government, and it was never about health care. It was about control.”

He told Politico on Wednesday that he’ll have a role in developing a replacement for the Affordable Care Act.