Aides to Donald Trump have discussed asking former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney to publicly apologize for insulting the president-elect in order to pave the way for a nomination to lead the State Department.
A Trump transition aide confirmed to DailyMail.com on Friday that there have been ‘discussions’ inside Trump Tower about the possibility. The source wouldn’t say if Trump himself is aware of those discussions or has given them his blessing.
Romney famously tore into Trump in March, telling a Utah audience that the New York billionaire was ‘a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing members of the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House, and all we get is a lousy hat.’
But eight months after the former Massachusetts governor said that ‘dishonesty is Donald Trump’s hallmark’ and mocked his ‘bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third-grade theatrics,’ Trump is reportedly considering making him America’s top diplomat.
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Mitt Romney (right) could be the next U.S. secretary of state, but some aides to President-elect Donald Trump (center) are mulling whether the 2012 GOP presidential nominee needs to apologize for his past anti-Trump sniping first
Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera said Friday that a public apology would be the right move for Romney
Former Trump campaign rival Mike Huckabee said Wednesday that if Trump chooses Romney as his secretary of state, it will send the wrong message to voters who elected him – but Romney would still have to fall on his sword first
Choosing Romney could leave Trump open to sniping from conservatives who are eager to see a Republican administration chock full of right-wing political bomb-throwers in the mold of the president-elect’s campaign speeches.
But Trump has sent signals that he’s interested in showing the world a softer face, even at the risk of alienating some of his most zealous backers.
One way to resolve that tension would be a public mea culpa to smooth the waters with Trump loyalists who want to see a more charismatic hard-liner – like former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani or former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich – win the post.
Trump transition communications aide Jason Miller cautioned reporters on a Friday morning conference call not to read too much into what aides from warring camps might be saying.
‘A lot of the palace intrigue gets a little bit overblown at this stage in the process,’ Miller said.
Citing a Trump transition official, Fox News Channel correspondent Ed Henry said Thursday that ‘there has been a conversation going on in private, very quiet of course, about whether or not Mitt Romney should issue some sort of formal or informal apology to President-elect Donald Trump.’
‘Does he write a letter? Does he put out a statement of some kind?’ Henry mused.
Fox News reporter Ed Henry said Thursday that internal Team Trump discussions are focusing on the idea of a Romney mea culpa
Former Trump campaign rival Mike Huckabee raised the idea of Romney in sackcloth and ashes on Wednesday, telling a Fox news audience that ‘there is only one way that I think Mitt Romney could even be considered for a post like’ secretary of state.
‘And that is that he goes to a microphone in a very public place and repudiates everything he said in that famous Salt Lake City speech. And everything he said after that, where he said Donald Trump wasn’t fit, that he lacked character – I mean, on and on.’
‘I’m still very unhappy that Mitt did everything he could to derail Donald Trump,’ said Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister and former Arkansas governor.
‘He didn’t just go after him from the standpoint of “I disagree with his policy on immigration, I disagree with his policy on taxes.” He attacked him on a personal level about his character, integrity, his honor.’
Henry said Thursday that in order to clear a path for Romney to take over the State Department – and to win the support of senators who would vote to confirm him – ‘it seems like that’s business that needs to be cleaned up.’
The discussion about a face-saving path forward for the 2012 GOP nominee ‘gives us a clue that Romney might be a much more serious contender for secretary of state than a lot of people assumed at the beginning,’ he said.
‘Romney wouldn’t even be considering an apology, wouldn’t even be broached by anybody, unless maybe he really wants this job.’
Friday morning on ‘Fox & Friends,’ Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera said such a move would be seen as ‘gracious’ on Romney’s part.
‘It’s Thanksgiving time. Why not?’ he asked.
Romney blasted Trump in March, devoting an entire speech to calling the eventual GOP nominee ‘a phony, a fraud … He’s playing members of the American public for suckers’
‘I mean, the words were very harsh that Governor Romney uttered in the heat of the campaign. I don’t think people would fault him if he said, “Listen, that was about electoral politics. I had a different preference. Now we’re all on the same team”.’
‘I hope Gov. Romnney very publicly says to President-elect Trump, you know, “Listen, hot stuff was said by a lot of people. Let’s get past it”,’ he said.
But any apology ‘has to be in-kind’ with Romney’s blistering criticism, Rivera cautioned.
‘It was a big blow, a body blow in public. The apology should be similar, I think, in scope.’
Rivera has emerged as a centrist voice in public discussions about Trump’s cabinet choices, saying a move toward nominating Gingrich, Giuliani or former UN ambassador John Bolton would send ‘exactly the wrong message.’
‘They’re flamethrowers,’ he said.
Huckabee blasted Romney, shown after meeting with Trump on Saturday, as a disloyal partisan who attacked Trump on a personal level eight months ago
Trump swept to an unlikely victory over former secretary of state Hillary Clinton on Nov. 8 on the basis of promises to break with the GOP’s moderate wing.
The president-elect’s transition raised eyebrows among Trump loyalists on Wednesday morning when it signaled that he will make South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley – another establishment Republican – the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Haley grabbed headlines in January when she delivered the Republican response to President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address, cautioning Americans not to ‘follow the siren call of the angriest voices.’
Trump, in the midst of contentious fights over the Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire Primary, said the next day during a Palmetto State campaign rally that he would ‘gladly accept the mantle of anger.’
‘Our country is being run horribly … Yes, I am angry, and I won’t be angry when we fix it,’ he said.