DAVENPORT - At Trump Tower on Tuesday, December 6, 2016, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad could parlay a longtime Chinese connection into a new job.
Branstad said he had a "cordial conversation" with President-elect Trump in New York on subjects ranging from the election to the transition, but he offered no details about possibly becoming U.S. Ambassador to China.
"I have no announcement to make at this time," he said.
Still, a 2012 reunion in Muscatine shows how old friends could also be new colleagues.
Then-Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping got together with Branstad and a group of "old friends" that he first met back in 1985.
Branstad's continued friendship with the Chinese leader could make him a leading contender for the spot.
"President-elect Trump recognizes that and recognizes that could be a strong benefit in maintaining a relationship," said Judy Davidson. chair of the Scott County Republicans.
In 2015, China got more than $2 billion in goods and services from Iowa. Corn, soybeans and agricultural exports are especially popular.
"I think it would be a great opportunity for the Midwest," said Bill Bloom, chair of the Rock Island County Republicans. "I think it also shows a lot of good decision-making on the part of our president-elect,"
But after the November election, Branstad is also eager to work with a Republican majority in Iowa's House and Senate.
"I know he would look forward to working with the legislature and advocating conservative principles that he and the lieutenant governor have been working on for the past six years," Davidson said.
Branstad is set to appear with President-elect Trump at a "Thank You" rally in Des Moines on Thursday, December 8.
Should the job offer eventually arrive, it would give the heartland a strong voice abroad.
"Branstad offers both a good relationship with the president-elect and a lot of talent and capability," Bloom concluded.
Capability from a Chinese connection that started more than 30 years ago and is poised for the future.