KEY POINTS

  • Republican strategists say O'Brien's idea to run for president is baffling
  • O'Brien was appointed by Trump as special presidential envoy for hostage affairs in May 2018
  • He published a book that detailed his views on foreign policy

Robert O’Brien, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, is reportedly floating the idea of running for president in 2024.

O’Brien, who is Trump's fourth and least well-known national security adviser, has been telling friends and colleagues that he is considering a presidential bid in 2024, according to three people with knowledge of the conversation. His travels as Trump’s national security adviser to early presidential primary states, such as Iowa, Ohio and Nevada, influenced his interest in running for president. 

The idea of O'Brien running in 2024 has baffled Republican strategists, who say his personality would not translate well as president. 

“While his service is admirable, there are other personal traits of his that would not translate well to being president or winning a primary campaign,” an unnamed GOP strategist said. 

Doug Heye, a former Republican National Committee communications director, believes O’Brien has no public profile, which may make it difficult for him to run for president, Politico reported.  

“To run as an outsider is one thing. To run as an unknown, that’s a lot more difficult,” Heye said. “What makes one person stand out when they have zero name ID? … In politics, you never say never, but you often say this is extremely difficult to do.” 

O’Brien, 54, earned his law degree at the University of California, Berkeley. The Los Angeles native once served as a legal officer with the United Nations Security Council Compensation Commission in Geneva, where he reviewed claims about Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait between 1990 and 1991. 

During the George W. Bush administration, he co-chaired a State Department initiative that promoted the rule of law in Afghanistan by training judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys through public-private partnerships. O’Brien continued to co-chair the initiative during Obama’s term, according to the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition

President Trump appointed O’Brien as special presidential envoy for hostage affairs in May 2018. He currently serves as the president’s senior adviser on international affairs. 

O’Brien's 2016 book, “While America Slept: Restoring American Leadership to a World in Crisis,” feature essays that detail his foreign policy views and advocate for building a more massive U.S. naval fleet.  US National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien speaks during a ceremony at the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs office in Manila US National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien speaks during a ceremony at the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs office in Manila Photo: POOL / ELOISA LOPEZ