Trump-Romney Meet Discuss Cabinet Possibilities
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Forget a Team of Rivals.
This would be a double act of denouncers.
The thought that Mitt Romney would ever join the cabinet of Donald Trump — given their fuming hostility, mutual contempt and venomous rhetorical exchanges — might be the most absurd notion yet of a crazy political year.
But the possibility that Trump and the man he labeled a “choke artist” could find common cause in the new administration was nonetheless a hot topic ahead of their meeting Saturday at the president-elect’s Bedminster, New Jersey, golf retreat.
The 2012 Republican nominee, who once warned in a CNN interview that a Trump presidency would mean “trickle down racism” and “trickle down bigotry” instead sat down with Trump and discussed the job of secretary of state, an appointment that would make Hillary Clinton’s decision to serve in the same post under her 2008 primary rival Barack Obama seem routine by comparison.
After the meeting, Romney offered no hint as to whether he was offered or would accept a role in Trump’s administration.
“We had a far-reaching conversation with regard to the various theaters in the world where there are interests of the United States of real significance.
We discussed those areas and exchanged our views on those topics,” Romney said in brief remarks to reporters. He did not take questions.
Intrigue surrounds meeting:
Prominent members of Romney’s orbit, while not confirming that the former Massachusetts governor is interested in running US diplomacy, are not entirely dismissing the notion that he could agree to serve.
“One of the things that drives Gov. Romney is a sense of duty and I think that sense of duty is what’s driving him to help President-elect Trump in any way he can as he puts together a government,” Kevin Madden said on CNN’s “New Day” on Friday. “I think he recognizes that there is that type of outreach going on with President-elect’s transition team.”
On the face of it, there are plenty of reasons why the 2012 nominee would refuse to serve alongside Trump, not least because of their sharply different characters and positions on some key foreign policy issues.
But there are enough reasons why it might make sense for both men to lend their meeting plenty of intrigue.
For the President-elect, Romney would bring an immediate burst of knowledge, global credibility, sound temperament and competence to his nascent administration.
His selection would also be seen as a genuine gesture to bind the wounds in the Republican Party and the foreign policy establishment left over from a bitter primary campaign.
It could also open the floodgates for the kind of credible, experienced GOP foreign policy insiders who Trump needs to staff crucial, lower-ranking national security jobs, to join the administration.
And since Trump’s core voters are more concerned with draining the swamp of well known Washington insiders than foreign policy, the State Department may be one place he could put an establishment figure and not sustain much political damage.
“Mr. Romney would be a great choice in a sense that would be a signal sent to moderates as well as conservatives,” William Cohen, a former US defense secretary, told CNN International’s Hala Gorani on Friday.
“Whether that is a realistic thing remains to be seen — I am skeptical but nonetheless remain hopeful that such an appointment, or people like Mitt Romney would be considered.”
Some of Romney’s closest advisers initially expressed surprise at the news that Trump and Romney would meet.
But some told CNN’s Gloria Borger that the former venture capitalist prized his duty to his country above all else. Others noted that though he is known as a businessman, Romney’s true interests centered on foreign policy, and that secretary of state would be the only cabinet position he would accept.
Another friend however expressed extreme skepticism Romney would join the Trump cabinet.