ReutersBEDMINSTER, N.J. (Reuters) — President-elect Donald Trump and 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney set aside a fierce rivalry on Saturday and held talks likely to feed speculation that Romney could be in line to be the next U.S. secretary of state.
Trump also met for an hour with retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, who is considered a strong contender for defense secretary or another high-ranking job.
After a day of meetings, Trump emerged to tell reporters that his search process was going “really efficiently” and that he had spoken to “really, really talented” people who could form part of his Cabinet. Asked if Mattis would be his defense secretary, Trump said, “He’s a great guy. He is some great man.”
Trump said he might have some announcements Sunday.
Earlier, Trump and Romney emerged from their meeting after an hour and 20 minutes, and Trump told reporters their talks “went great.” Romney said the pair “had a far-reaching conversation with regards to the various theaters in the world.”
“We discussed those areas, and exchanged our views on those topics — a very thorough and in-depth discussion in the time we had,” Romney said. “And I appreciate the chance to speak with the president-elect and I look forward to the coming administration and the things that it’s going to be doing.”
Romney, who was a leader of the establishment Republican “never Trump” movement that tried to block Trump from becoming the nominee, was first in a long list of people Trump was meeting with on Saturday and Sunday as he seeks to fill out his Cabinet and gather advice ahead of his Jan. 20 move to the White House.
In March, Romney said Trump would be dangerous as president, with policies that could touch off a recession. Romney also said, “I’m afraid that when it comes to foreign policy he is very, very not smart.”
Trump had denounced Romney as a “choke artist” for losing the 2012 election to President Barack Obama.
But with the New York real estate developer now president-in-waiting, Romney’s appearance at Trump National Bedminster on an unseasonably warm November day was symbolic of hard-won party unity.
Whether Romney will join the Trump administration is unclear. Romney, a more mainstream Republican, would serve alongside more hawkish Trump appointees named on Friday: Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama as attorney general, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as national security adviser and Rep. Mike Pompeo as CIA director.
Those nominations suggest Trump is setting up his administration to take a hard line confronting Islamist militancy and curbing illegal immigration.
Transition officials said Trump’s meeting with Romney was supposed to be a general discussion about the incoming administration.
A Romney confidant said of Romney’s secretary of state prospects: “Could it happen? I suppose. But it’s unlikely.”