Trump Faces Pushback on Romney 12/04 11:01
The possible selection of Romney, who is on Trump's shortlist for Secretary
of State despite being a forceful critic throughout the campaign, has been met
with trepidation from many of the working-class voters that propelled the
Republican to his astonishing victory.
NEW YORK (AP) -- As President-elect Donald Trump stood onstage during the
debut night of his "Thank you" tour and teased that he was about to announce a
surprise Cabinet pick, some in the Ohio crowd bellowed: "No Romney! No Romney!"
Trump's administration selections have largely been cheered by close allies
and supporters. Many have deep ties to Washington and Wall Street that would
seem contradictory to the populist, outsider campaign Trump ran with a promise
to "drain the swamp" of corruption and elitism in government.
But the possible selection of Romney, who is on Trump's shortlist for
Secretary of State despite being a forceful critic throughout the campaign, has
been met with trepidation from many of the working-class voters that propelled
the Republican to his astonishing victory.
Kim Doss loudly cheered Trump at the Cincinnati rally but will not forgive
Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee, for the "witch hunt" he held "to make sure
Trump wasn't the nominee."
"I think he went out of his way to make that happen, which totally backfired
on him," said Doss, a 46-year-old accountant from Hebron, Kentucky. "He
obviously said some really ugly things about (Trump)."
Some of Trump's most prominent allies, including his campaign manager, have
taken the unprecedented step of using national television interviews to bash
Romney. And nearly a dozen Trump backers who attended the Ohio victory lap
vehemently denounced Romney as a choice to be the nation's top diplomat.
Then there's the Russia twist: Russian politicians are concerned about
reports that Trump would even consider Romney as the U.S. top diplomat because
of Romney's harsh stance on Russia. Trump has said he would like to improve
Putin said in an interview with the NTV channel to be broadcast later on
Sunday that Trump's business accomplishments show him to be a "smart man."
He added that "if he is a smart man, that means that he will fairly soon
become aware of a different level of responsibility. We expect that he act with
these considerations in mind."
Rally-goer Josh Kanowitz said he was willing to give Trump the benefit of
the doubt for some of his establishment-friendly picks --- including former
Goldman Sachs partner Steve Mnuchin for Secretary of the Treasury --- but he
visibly recoiled at the suggestion that Romney would be a Team-of-Rivals-style
selection from Trump.
Romney, the GOP's 2012 president nominee, eviscerated Trump in a March
speech, delivering broadsides against the New York businessman who he deemed "a
con man" and "a fake."
"His domestic policies would lead to recession," said Romney. "His foreign
policies would make America and the world less safe. He has neither the
temperament nor the judgment to be president and his personal qualities would
mean that America would cease to be a shining city on a hill."
Unlike many establishment Republicans, Romney never wavered in his
opposition to Trump during the campaign and did not reveal whether he voted for
him. Despite that, Trump, who deeply prizes loyalty and rarely forgives foes,
summoned him to his New Jersey golf club last month to interview for Secretary
of State. After the meeting, Trump was said to be taken by the way Romney
"looks the part" of a globe-trotting diplomat, according to people close to the
In nominating Romney, Trump would be signaling his willingness to heal
campaign wounds and reach out to traditional Republicans who were deeply
skeptical of his experience and temperament. The president-elect has added at
least one other former critic to his team: South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who
attacked the businessman for being slow to denounce support from white
supremacists, was Trump's pick to be ambassador to the United Nations.
Trump is expected to announce his choice for Secretary of State in the
coming days. Romney is one of the favorites for the position, joining ex-New
York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, and former U.S.
Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton. Giuliani had been the initial
front-runner but questions about his overseas business ties --- as well as his
own public campaigning for the job --- are said to have given Trump pause. It
remains possible a darkhorse candidate could emerge.
Trump met with Romney again last week over dinner, a remarkable moment of
public courtship after which the 2012 nominee addressed reporters and did a
stunning about-face on Trump, declaring that the evening with the
president-elect was "enlightening, and interesting, and engaging" and that he
was optimistic that "America's best days are ahead of us."
The reality TV-style auditions have stirred speculation that it could be a
Trump-approved attempt to humiliate a prominent Republican who staunchly
opposed him throughout the presidential campaign.
"People feel betrayed to think that Gov. Romney, who went out of his way to
question the character and the intellect and the integrity of Donald Trump, now
our president-elect, would be given the most significant cabinet post of all,"
said Kellyanne Conway, a senior Trump aide. She said Romney was "nothing but
awful" to Trump for a year.
Conway's opposition to Romney is also said to be shared by Steve Bannon, the
controversial conservative media executive who will serve as Trump's White
House senior adviser. And Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House who
was an outspoken Trump ally, has mocked Romney for "sucking up" to Trump and
said he could "think of 20 other people" better suited to be Secretary of State.
Not all of the president-elect's supporters believe that Romney would be a
hard sell to Trump's base. John James, a 55-year-old writer from Cincinnati,
said Romney would be "fantastic to represent America" and suggested that
"sometimes you need people who don't agree with you 100 percent because they
give a different perspective."