Trump meets with five potential cabinet members, Romney selection ‘unlikely’

UPDATE — 10:54 a.m. EST: In an interview on “Fox News Sunday” Vice President-elect Mike Pence said Mitt Romney is actively being considered for Secretary of State, “along with some other distinguished Americans.”

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), top Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, commented on the possibility by saying that Romney is a “consummate diplomat”, but isn’t taking his candidacy seriously.

“I think this is Donald Trump still being the entertainer, still running a show where he wants to build suspense and he alone knows who the contestant will be the winner,” he said. “It’s more of a nod to the appearance of bringing people together.”

 

Donald Trump and Mike Pence met with former Massachusetts Governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Saturday in Bedminster, N.J., to discuss U.S. foreign policy, as the president-elect begins to interview prospective cabinet members, including candidates for secretary of state.

The meeting lasted about 80 minutes, which Mr. Romney described afterwards as “a far-reaching conversation with regards to the various theaters in the world where there are interests of the United States of real significance.”

A Trump transition team statement said the visit included “substantive and in-depth conversation about world affairs, national security and the future of America.”

Media rumors began to fly earlier in the week that Trump was considering Romney for secretary of state, along with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Tennessee Senator Bob Corker and former U.S. Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton.

However, a source close to Romney told Reuters that the possibility of the former presidential candidate being named as head of the State Department is “unlikely.” Rather, the source said Saturday’s meeting served as a “good housekeeping seal of approval to Republicans who don’t know if they should help Trump or not.”

Indeed, Romney represents the moderate, establishment wing of the Republican Party that lost badly in the GOP presidential primaries to so-called political outsiders like Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Such traditional Republicans, like Romney, support free trade, cooperation with long-time allies — NATO countries, Israel, South Korea, etc. — and the U.S. foreign policy mantra, popularized by President Ronald Reagan, of “peace through strength”.

Former U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen commented that Romney would be a “great choice” to lead the State Department, and “a signal sent to moderates as well as conservatives.”

Trump also met with four other cabinet candidates Saturday, including retired Marine General James Mattis, who is being considered for secretary of defense. The president-elect’s meeting with the Iraq and Afghanistan war general lasted just over an hour and the transition team said Trump and Pence were “very impressed”.

Also making the trip to Trump’s Bedminster golf club were CKE Restaurants CEO Andy Puzder, who is being considered for labor secretary, along with former District of Columbia Public Schools’ chancellor Michelle Rhee and former Michigan GOP chair Betsy DeVos, to potentially fill the role of education secretary.

 

[Reuters] [CNN] [Photo courtesy Steve Marcus/Reuters via Business Insider]