President-elect Donald Trump reportedly is “inclined” to pick former Gov. Mitt Romney for secretary of state — a pick political operatives say could greatly expand the pool of candidates willing to serve in his administration, encouraging some of Romney’s backers even as it rankles others.
Romney skewered Trump during the campaign, calling him a “con man” and other slurs, as one of the leading GOP establishment voices against him.
But Trump met with Romney at his golf club this past weekend, and, according to press accounts of a private meeting he held with media members Monday, said Romney “really wants” the secretary of state job.
Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal, citing sources close to the deliberations, reported a group of advisers is pushing Trump to pick the 2012 Republican nominee, and that Trump is “inclined to select” Romney.
GOP consultant Ford O’Connell said a big advantage a seasoned pol like Romney has is that his appointment “would have a stabilizing effect on the perceptions of Trump,” on Wall Street and worldwide.
The real question for Trump, O’Connell said, is whether he can trust Romney to carry out his vision, and if the two can reconcile their differences on Russia as a potential ally.
“If they can do those two things, then Mitt Romney’s got a real shot,” O’Connell said. “Because the big thing for Trump is loyalty, but you can’t know everyone, and sometimes you’ve got to go with who you think can best fill some of these roles.”
Trump also worried some of his base yesterday when he and campaign manager Kellyanne Conway signaled he’s shifting away from directing his future attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton, instead leaving the matter to the FBI’s discretion.
O’Connell called the shift a “smart move” now that Trump needs Senate support for his nominees.
“He wants to be seen as a statesman, and he knows that he is going to have to horse-trade his way to that perception,” O’Connell said. “This is the beginning for him giving a little bit, because he knows he’s also going to have to push some of these folks through the Senate for advice and consent.”