Branstad makes the case for Chinese ambassadorship

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) Iowa Governor Terry Branstad is one step closer to becoming the next ambassador to China.

The Midwestern governor pledged to confront China on a range of contentious issues during his confirmation hearing to become the next ambassador to China on Tuesday.

“As an old friend, I’d tell him where he’s falling short, and the kind of things that need to be addressed," Branstad said during his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Iowa's senators introduced the governor at his confirmation hearing. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) says she's confident Branstad will leverage his relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping to further U.S. interests.

“There won’t be that get to know you period," Sen. Ernst explained. "The governor does know the President of China, but I do believe he will be able to toe the line and work with China.”

Democrats and Republicans on the committee pressed Branstad about his views on U.S.-Chinese cooperation in enforcing sanctions on North Korea.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), a ranking member of the committee questioned the governor on how he'd deal with China.

"How do you deal with China that is not interested in bringing down the North Korean regime," Cardin asked.

“I will work with the Chinese," Branstad answered. "We need to convince the Chinese that they are the ones who have the potential to influence the regime in North Korea more than anyone else.”

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) says he thinks the confirmation process will go smoothly, with a majority of the committee members expressing their support at the hearing.

"It might be very well that Democrats, that this will be one appointment that they don't filibuster, that they won't be an obstacle, like they had been with most of the people going into the cabinet," Grassley said.

The committee has not yet scheduled a time to vote on Branstad's confirmation, but it could happen as early as next week.

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