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5 Things About Rex Tillerson, Secretary Of State Player

It seems President-elect Donald Trump still hasn't made up his mind about who he'll appoint as secretary of state. Trump has long been considering Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, and made headlines by patching up things with former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who was one of Trump's fiercest critics during the campaign.

But as the weeks stretch on, another name as emerged as a candidate for the position: Rex Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp. Here are the basics:

1) He's no stranger to negotiating with foreign powers.

As CEO of Exxon, Tillerson "is a known and respected quantity in oil-producing countries," Jim Krane, an expert on energy geopolitics at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, told The Charlotte Observer.

Tillerson has rubbed elbows with heads of state, and his responsibilities as CEO of an oil company meant he had to become knowledgeable about the Middle East and countries where U.S. diplomats might not be welcome, but American businessmen are. His company operates in 50 countries, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Critics say Tillerson would be a bad pick because he isn't likely to prioritize combating climate change, but supporters think the longtime executive could hit the ground running and leverage the trust he's already established in far corners of the world.

2) He's friendly with Vladimir Putin.

Russian President Vladimir Putin honored Tillerson with the Order of Friendship in 2013, recognizing him for his work toward better relations with Russia. That puts him in the company of astronauts, renowned concert pianists, foreign lawmakers and Olympians.

“If Trump really wanted to pursue his campaign goals of bettering U.S. relations with Russia, Tillerson would be someone who could probably carry that out," Krane said.

Whether Tillerson's ties with Russia are good or bad depends mostly on the observer's political bent, but Tillerson has a better rapport with the Russians than other secretary of state candidates, including Giuliani and Romney.

3) He's going to retire anyway.

Tillerson is 64 years old, and he's been Exxon's top executive since 2006. But the company has a mandatory retirement age of 65, meaning the experienced CEO will be out of a job regardless of whether he moves on to the public sector.

The company already has a successor groomed to take Tillerson's place. In December 2015, Exxon promoted Darren Woods -- an electrical engineer who joined the company in 1992 -- to president.

4) He's a native Texan.

Tillerson was born in Wichita Falls, Texas, attended high school in Huntsville, and earned his college degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 1975.

5) He didn't support Trump in the early days.

During the Republican primary, most of the early money went to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who was the front-runner according to conventional wisdom. Tillerson was no exception, opening his wallet to donate $2,700 to Bush's campaign -- the most he could contribute as an individual -- and $5,000 to a Super PAC supporting Bush, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Tillerson did not donate to Trump's campaign, according to records kept by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Sources: The Charlotte Observer, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg / Photo credit: Commons

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