BEDMINSTER, N.J. –- The 2012 Republican nominee who’d warned the nation about a Donald Trump presidency met with Trump for close to an hour and a half on Saturday, on the eve of that same presidency.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) emerged after an hour and 23 minutes inside the clubhouse at Trump’s New Jersey golf resort ― a meeting reportedly to discuss his potential appointment as secretary of state, the most prestigious Cabinet post in an administration.
Romney gave a brief statement to the waiting media but took no questions as he walked over to the white Buick SUV that he had arrived in, climbed inside, and rode off.
“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. We discussed those areas, and exchanged our views on those topics ― a very thorough and in-depth discussion in the time we had,” Romney said. “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.”
Among the questions Romney did not answer: Would he take a job in the Trump administration if it were offered? Did he still believe Trump is a con man? Did he apologize at all for his harsh criticism of Trump in the months before the election?
For his part, Trump said only that the meeting had gone well. “It went great,” he shouted, cupping his hands to his mouth and waving before walking back into the clubhouse.
Romney was among Trump’s harshest Republican critics toward the end of the primary campaign. He gave a speech on March 3 in Salt Lake City specifically to criticize Trump’s qualifications and persuade GOP voters to consolidate behind one of his remaining rivals.
“Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing the members of the American public for suckers. He gets a free ride to the White House, and all we get is a lousy hat,” Romney said in the speech. “He has neither the temperament nor the judgement to be president.”
Trump had long criticized Romney for losing his 2012 presidential run against Barack Obama. He stepped up those attacks in his subsequent campaign appearances, calling Romney a “choke artist” and “irrelevant” hours after the Salt Lake City speech.
“He was begging for my endorsement,” Trump told rally goers in Maine. “I could’ve said, ‘Mitt, drop to your knees,’ and he would’ve dropped to his knees. He was begging. True. True. He was begging me.”