Former U.S. Rep. Jim Leach, a Davenport native, is being mentioned as a possible ambassador to China.

Leach, who represented eastern Iowa for 30 years, declined to comment Monday.

However, a Washington Post columnist, Al Kamen, wrote in a piece Monday that the former congressman “may be edging toward the top of the ever-changing list of those being mentioned for the critical post of ambassador to China.”

The columnist did not cite a source.

There have been a smattering of news reports over the past 10 days about the possibility of a Leach appointment, particularly after a blog for the magazine Foreign Policy mentioned him as a potential appointee.

The blog also speculated he could be tapped administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The moderate Republican endorsed President Barack Obama during the general election campaign, and he spoke at the Democratic National Convention last year.

He also campaigned on Obama’s behalf, one of a handful of moderate Republicans who tried to reach out to a sector of the GOP.

“There is absolutely no subject that is less appropriate to comment upon than anything related to appointments,” Leach said Monday.

He added, “I have no high expectations. I’m very happy teaching.”

Leach, who left Congress in 2007, is a professor at Princeton University.

After leaving Congress, he’s been periodically mentioned as a possible executive branch appointee, including during the Bush administration.

A former foreign service officer, Leach spent years on the House’s International Relations Committee, including chairing the subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.

Others also have been mentioned as possible nominees to the China post. Foreign Affairs reported that former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagle, also a Republican, turned down the job, as did John Podesta, a former Clinton administration official and head of the Center for American Progress.


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