COLUMBIA — A major backer of President Donald Trump says his focus has shifted to business since he returned to South Carolina.
The only likely way that would change is if Trump launches another presidential bid, said Ed McMullen, Trump's ambassador to Switzerland.
McMullen focused on diplomacy and business as he spoke May 24 at the Columbia Rotary meeting, describing his four-year tenure in Bern, Switzerland.
McMullen, who settled in Charleston after returning home in January, said he has no political plans to seek office himself.
"Never, ever, ever," he said.
He said the former president remains the most popular figure among likely Republican primary voters, according to early polls, if he wants to run again.
“He’s clearly the front-runner in any race you see, and I think he feels like he has unfinished business," McMullen said.
If Trump did run again and seek his help, he would have it, McMullen said.
Having known Trump for decades, McMullen was one of the first to back him in South Carolina, acting as his S.C. campaign director.
McMullen previously led the S.C. Policy Council, a conservative think tank, and operated his own communications firm in the state.
For now, McMullen said he would like to focus on business, which also was the prime focus of his ambassadorship.
McMullen is a partner at Bartons Family Capital, an equity fund based in London.
Building stronger ties between Swiss companies and the U.S. market was a major achievement of his term as ambassador — a post he said Trump urged him to take after he rejected the idea of a role in Washington, D.C.
Switzerland moved up from eighth to sixth for foreign investment in the United States during his term, McMullen said.
During his time there, he also was able to work with the Swiss government to help get two Americans released from captivity in Iran. The Swiss ties were crucial because the United States for decades had no diplomatic relations with Iran, he said.
Now he's looking to build on the economic ties he built there both through work at Bartons and through economic development work for the law firm of Adams and Reese in its Columbia office.
"Politics today has gotten so bitter and negative, I just don’t have any interest in participating in it," McMullen said.