Michael Froman, White House deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs, is likely to stay in his current job rather than succeed Ron Kirk as U.S. trade representative, two sources familiar with the process said on Tuesday.
Froman was considered a top candidate for the trade position, but is hesitant about leaving a portfolio that already allows him to have huge say over trade policy in addition to international finance, energy and climate change.
"He is inclined to retain his White House portfolio," said one source familiar with his thinking.
President Barack Obama, in his inaugural address on Monday, specifically mentioned fighting climate change as an issue he wanted to advance over the next four years, and the source noted that Froman's current job includes "key second-term priorities."
Kirk announced on Tuesday that he would step down as the top U.S. trade official in late February. White House officials were still in the process of finding a replacement, the source said, and Froman remained in the mix.
"It's not 100 percent clear that he's not going to do it, but the odds suggest that he probably is going to stay," the source said.
"It wouldn't be surprising if Froman were to stay in his current role," another source said.
Treasury Under Secretary for International Affairs Lael Brainard and U.S. Export-Import Bank President Fred Hochberg are under consideration for the trade job.
Froman, a former Citicorp executive, has known Obama since they worked together on the Harvard Law Review and has advised him on policy since he was a senator.
He serves as the president's lead representative, or "sherpa," in international economic settings such as the G8 and G20 meetings.