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Trump Warmly Greets Romney, Possible Secretary of State Pick

  • VOA News

President-elect Donald Trump gives the thumbs-up as Mitt Romney leaves Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in Bedminster, N.J., Nov. 19, 2016.

President-elect Donald Trump gives the thumbs-up as Mitt Romney leaves Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in Bedminster, N.J., Nov. 19, 2016.

Mitt Romney, who had been one of Donald Trump's harshest Republican critics during the early stages of the U.S. political campaign, met with the president-elect Saturday and said they had "a very thorough and in-depth discussion" about world affairs.

Romney, the losing Republican candidate against President Barack Obama in 2012, has been mentioned recently as Trump's possible choice for secretary of state. No indication about who will fill that job emerged from the Trump-Romney talks in New Jersey, at a golf club Trump owns.

"We had a far-reaching conversation with regards to the various theaters of the world where there are interests of the United States of real significance," Romney said after the meeting. "We discussed those areas and exchanged our views on those topics."

In what appeared to be a public gesture of reconciliation with mainstream Republican leaders, Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence warmly greeted Romney with handshakes as the former Massachusetts governor arrived for their talks.

Mitt Romney gets into a vehicle as he leaves after meeting with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., Nov. 19, 2016.

Mitt Romney gets into a vehicle as he leaves after meeting with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., Nov. 19, 2016.

Previous contentiousness

Trump and Romney have had a contentious relationship in the past, but Senator Jeff Sessions, Trump's attorney general-designate and vice chairman of his transition team, urged the president-elect to consider Romney for a position in the incoming administration.

In a speech last March that gained wide attention, Romney blasted Trump as a "con man" and a "fraud." Trump responded that Romney had "choked like a dog" in his own election bid four years earlier, and he repeatedly branded the multimillionaire businessman a "loser."

Their relationship began to thaw only this month, after Romney called Trump to congratulate him on his surprising presidential victory.

Trump reputedly is considering a number of people for the nation's top diplomatic post, but the president-elect himself has said that he alone knows who will be among the "finalists" for the job.

Those whose names have been floated for secretary of state include former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, U.S. Senator Bob Corker and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.

Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich also had been considered a candidate for the top diplomatic post, but withdrew his name from consideration Thursday for any federal appointment, saying he would instead support and assist Trump as an outside adviser.

Differences over Russia policy

Trump's and Romney's positions on U.S. relations with Russia have differed noticeably. Romney said in 2012 that Russia was America's "No. 1 geopolitical foe," but Trump has spoken warmly about the possibility of close cooperation with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a campaign to destroy the Islamic State group. After speaking by telephone with Putin earlier this week, Trump said he anticipated a "strong and enduring relationship with Russia."

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence greet retired Marine General James Mattis for a meeting at the main clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, Nov. 19, 2016.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence greet retired Marine General James Mattis for a meeting at the main clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, Nov. 19, 2016.

Trump and Romney met in the northeastern U.S. town of Bedminister, New Jersey, home to the Trump National Golf Club. The president-elect will also meet there with retired General James Mattis, who is reportedly being considered for secretary of defense. Mattis, a former war commander, has repeatedly expressed concern about security threats presented by Iran. Also being considered for defense chief are retired Army General David Petraeus and Army General Jack Keane.

After the meeting with Romney, Trump met with education activist Michelle Rhee, a former superintendent of schools in the nation's capital, who is considered a possible candidate for secretary of education.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence emerge with Betsy DeVos after their meeting at the main clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. Nov. 19, 2016.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence emerge with Betsy DeVos after their meeting at the main clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. Nov. 19, 2016.

Trump was also scheduled to meet Saturday with anti-poverty advocate Bob Woodson, politician and education advocate Betsy DeVos, Chicago Cubs owner and campaign fundraiser Todd Ricketts, CKE Restaurants CEO Andy Puzder and financier Lew Eisenberg.

People line up to see the Broadway play "Hamilton," Nov. 19, 2016, in New York. President-elect Donald Trump demanded an apology from the cast of the hit musical a day after an actor lectured Vice President-elect Mike Pence about equality.

People line up to see the Broadway play "Hamilton," Nov. 19, 2016, in New York. President-elect Donald Trump demanded an apology from the cast of the hit musical a day after an actor lectured Vice President-elect Mike Pence about equality.

More Trump tweets

The president-elect spent part of his Saturday morning on Twitter, demanding an apology from Brandon Victor Dixon, a cast member of the award-winning Broadway play "Hamilton," which Trump's running mate, Mike Pence, attended Friday evening.

After a curtain call following the show, Dixon told audience members that the play's multiracial and multicultural cast was concerned about the incoming Trump administration's policies. Pence left the audience during Dixon's impromptu speech, but reporters said it was broadcast at the entrance to the theater and most likely was heard by the vice president-elect.

In another Twitter post Saturday, Trump discussed his decision to pay $25 million in damages to settle lawsuits arising from his Trump University real estate seminars.

"I settled the Trump University lawsuit for a small fraction of the potential award because as president I have to focus on our country," Trump tweeted, adding: "The ONLY bad thing about winning the presidency is that I did not have the time to go through a long but winning trial on Trump U. Too bad!"

The attorney general of New York state, Eric Schneiderman, said the agreement to end the suit followed Trump's repeated refusal "to settle for even modest amounts of compensation for the victims of his phony university." More than 6,000 students complained they had paid exorbitant sums — up to $35,000 — after being seduced by false promises that the seminars would reveal Trump's real estate investing secrets, when in fact they gained nothing of value from the classes.

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