Ready for the circuit ... Anna Wintour arrives for the state dinner hosted by President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama for China's President Hu Jintao at the White House last year. Photo: Reuters
WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama is considering nominating Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue, as his ambassador to Britain or France, as he looks to reward his biggest fund-raisers with embassies that never seem out of fashion, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Ms Wintour, 63, may have some competition for the London posting, with Matthew Barzun, the finance chairman of Mr Obama's presidential campaign, also interested in the job, officially known as ambassador to the Court of St James's, said the people, who requested anonymity.
Both Ms Wintour and Mr Barzun were among Mr Obama's biggest ''bundlers'' - a term defined by Wikipedia as people who can gather contributions from many individuals in an organisation or community and present the sum to the campaign - with each raising more than $500,000 to help re-elect the president. Marc Lasry, the managing partner and founder of Avenue Capital Management, covets the Paris embassy, said the people.
As Mr Obama considers how to reshape his national security team, with nominations for secretary of state and defence coming as soon as this week, he also will be tending to his political organisation. In January, he will install Florida Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz for another cycle as the party's chairwoman, according to a Democratic Party official. His fund-raisers are preparing to solicit donations for his inauguration party, which cost almost $45 million four years ago.
Louis Susman, the current envoy to Britain, was a Chicago-based investment banker and bundler for Obama's campaign in 2008 before becoming ambassador. Like Mr Obama's other political ambassadorial appointees, Pittsburgh Steelers football team owner Dan Rooney, who is serving in Ireland, and Charles Rivkin, the former chief executive of Jim Henson Co, home of the Muppets, who is posted in France, Susman is not expected to stay for a second term, the people said.
Ms Wintour, born in London and now a US citizen, is among Mr Obama's top 10 fund-raisers, two of the people said. She co- hosted a $40,000 plate event in June at actress Sarah Jessica Parker's house. Then in August, she hosted a Connecticut dinner that cost $35,800 per head at the home of movie executive Harvey Weinstein.
Megan Salt, a spokeswoman for Vogue, said Ms Wintour was not interested in a diplomatic post. "She's very happy with her current job," Ms Salt said.
The White House declined to comment, as did Mr Lasry. Mr Barzun, a former ambassador to Sweden, couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
Rewarding donors with ambassadorships is a staple of the presidency, and Mr Obama's picks are slightly above the 30 per cent average for envoys drawn from outside the career foreign service, said Susan Johnson, the president of the American Foreign Service Association. In his first term, Mr Obama nominated 59 ambassadors, including 40 bundlers, who lacked experience in the diplomatic corps.
"When he ran for election in 2008, on several occasions, Obama declared his intent to appoint more career people, and that has not actually happened," said Ms Johnson. "Our expectations were lifted, only to be dashed by reality."
Ms Wintour is "clearly an intelligent, energetic, capable, attractive, elegant person," Ms Johnson said, "but having experience in the practice of diplomacy and international relations is really a great advantage."
Ambassadors' positions in most western European capitals come with some of the cities' grandest residences, and London is no exception. Sold to the US government for $1 by Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton after World War II, the official residence has a sweeping lawn that leads into Regent's Park.
Mr Obama held his first meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao at Winfield house in April of 2009 and hosted the Queen and Prince Philip for a banquet there as part of the president's state visit in May 2011.