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Once Trump's Loudest GOP Critic, Mitt Romney Meets With The President-Elect

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney argues against Donald Trump's nomination as the GOP presidential candidate on March 3 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
George Frey
Getty Images
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney argues against Donald Trump's nomination as the GOP presidential candidate on March 3 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Donald Trump may be taking the old adage of keeping friends close and enemies closer to heart.

The president-elect met 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney in Bedminster, N.J. on Saturday, and after the meeting the two emerged with signals it had gone well.

"We had a far reaching conversation with regards to the various theaters in the world where there are interests of the United States of real significance," Romney told the press assembled outside Trump's golf course. "We discussed those areas, and exchanged our views on those topics – a very thorough and in-depth discussion in the time we had. 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."

Trump cupped his hands around his mouth and told the press "it went great." Neither took any questions.

NBC News reports that Trump is considering Romney for secretary of state. If Romney were to play a role in the Trump Administration, it would come as a surprise to many: Romney has been an outspoken opponent of Trump all year long, suggesting that Trump held racist views and lacked the temperament for the presidency.

In a speech at the University of Utah last March, Romney spent nearly 20 minutes laying out a blistering case against Trump.

"Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University," Romney said. "He's playing the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat."

In turn, Trump was unsparing in his criticism of Romney calling him a "failed candidate," and a "choke artist." Trump endorsed Romney during his 2012 run against President Obama.

"He was begging for my endorsement," Trump said. "I could have said 'Mitt drop to your knees,' and he would have dropped to his knees."

At the time, many took that comment as a sexual reference and another example of Trump's penchant for innuendo.

During the primaries, Romney campaigned with Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who dropped out of the presidential race in May. In a June interview with CNN, Romney again criticized Trump.

"Presidents have an impact on the nature of our nation," Romney said. "Trickle-down racism, trickle-down bigotry, trickle-down misogyny, all these things are extraordinarily dangerous to the heart and character of America."

As the primaries wound down, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus urged the the two to reconcile their differences for the sake of the Republican Party.

Now, it seems that perhaps they have. After Trump's win last week, Romney reportedly called Trump to offer his congratulations.

So far, most of Trump's other picks for key jobs have been Trump loyalists, including Priebus as the incoming chief of staff, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general and retired Army Lieutenant Gen. Michael Flynn as national security adviser. Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo, who originally endorsed former GOP candidate Marco Rubio, has also been offered the position of CIA director. Both Sessions and Pompeo need Senate confirmation.

As a former governor of Massachusetts and private equity CEO, Romney doesn't have much foreign policy experience, but his presidential run offers insight into his views on international affairs and where those might clash with Trump's.

In 2012, Romney called Russia "our number one geopolitical foe," whereas Trump has said he would consider working more closely with Vladimir Putin. When it comes to trade, Romney supported NAFTA in 2012 — a trade deal about which Trump has said he will renegotiate or end — and Romney also advocated for larger trade deals, according to ABC News.

Jessica Taylor contributed.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Meg Anderson is an editor on NPR's Investigations team, where she shapes the team's groundbreaking work for radio, digital and social platforms. She served as a producer on the Peabody Award-winning series Lost Mothers, which investigated the high rate of maternal mortality in the United States. She also does her own original reporting for the team, including the series Heat and Health in American Cities, which won multiple awards, and the story of a COVID-19 outbreak in a Black community and the systemic factors at play. She also completed a fellowship as a local reporter for WAMU, the public radio station for Washington, D.C. Before joining the Investigations team, she worked on NPR's politics desk, education desk and on Morning Edition. Her roots are in the Midwest, where she graduated with a Master's degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

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