Mitt Romney impressed Donald Trump so much during their meeting at Bedminster over the weekend, that he became a serious contender for secretary of state, said a source close to the Trump transition, who added a little more insight to what the vice president-elect told CBS News over the weekend.
The meeting between the president-elect and the 2012 GOP nominee was initially scheduled as a courtesy visit, and could have been awkward, given the animosity between the two during the presidential campaign. In March, Romney delivered a speech specifically intended to derail Trump’s presidential candidacy, calling him a “fraud” and a “phony.” Trump, in turn, labeled Romney a “loser” and a “choke artist.”
Yet whatever tension there may have been seems to have dissipated. “Trump enjoyed the meeting,” the source told CBS News.
On Sunday, Vice President-elect Mike Pence told CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” “We spent the better part of an hour together with him, and then I know that the two of them actually had some private time together,” Pence said. “I would tell you that it was not only a cordial meeting but also it was a very substantive meeting, and I can say that Gov. Romney is under active and serious consideration to serve as Secretary of State of the United States.”
Though Rudy Giuliani has been a leading candidate for secretary of state -- the source said Trump has had his “head wrapped around Rudy Giuliani” for the position – Trump has reconsidered since his meeting with Romney.
The same appears to be true for the man who had been the top contender for treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin. The source said he looked like a “lay-up” for the job, and still may be nomiated, but Mr. Trump has expanded his short list after speaking with other candidates. Wilbur Ross, however, appears to be a “done deal’ for commerce secretary. There are several candidates vying for interior secretary, including Texas businessman Ray Washburne.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, despite a meeting with Mr. Trump this past weekend, is out of the running for a position as a top adviser or department chief. Christie has been telling supporters he’s “in it for the long run.” He’ll serve out his term as governor which ends in January 2018, and await what may come from Bridgegate. Christie, according to the source, wanted to be attorney general. His view is that he’s been a good soldier for Mr. Trump throughout the campaign, once he ended his own presidential bid, and he’ll continue to sit back and be a good soldier in hopes of serving in Trump’s administration years from now. Mr. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, whose father Christie prosecuted, was a driving force behind Christie’s ouster from Trump world.
The president-elect’s picks for secretary of state, as well as his economic team, are expected to be announced before the domestic cabinet heads, like interior, health and human services and housing and urban development. The timing of the announcements remains fluid because Mr. Trump is reveling in speculation over whom he might choose, the source told CBS News: “He enjoys the attention. It’s more airtime.”