Reaaaaaaaally smart move by Trump. Although I wonder how much trouble he might be having in staffing up if he’s reaching out to Trumpers’ least favorite Republican for a job.
NEWS from @PrestonCNN –Trump meeting with Mitt Romney this weekend to discuss governing and possible Cabinet post #2016
— Deirdre Walsh (@deirdrekwalsh) November 17, 2016
Could be that this is just symbolic outreach to his critics in the GOP, as today’s meeting with Nikki Haley probably is, and nothing more will come of it. Even if so, that’s smart. Building goodwill among traditional Republicans will buy him a unified party for awhile and keep his critics on the right quieter for longer than they otherwise might have been. And it’s a shrewd way of signaling that he intends to govern in a more statesmanlike way than he campaigned. Romney gave an entire speech arguing against Trump’s candidacy earlier this year and then pointedly refused to endorse him this summer, and now Trump’s going to consider him for a job on grounds, presumably, that grudges can’t be held when it comes to getting the best people for the job. To repeat: Smart. Makes me wonder how long it’ll be before he offers Hillary an ambassadorship.
For which position might Romney plausibly be considered, though? It’s tempting to say “Treasury” because of his business experience, but it looks like Trump’s campaign finance chairman, Steve Mnuchin, is lined up for that. State? I think Romney could be quite good in that job and he does have a little diplomatic experience, I guess, from his time managing the Salt Lake Olympics. But it would be odd to have the guy who famously once called Russia “our number-one geopolitical foe” running diplomacy for Vladimir Putin’s favorite Republican. There’s always Defense, but … what qualifications does Romney have for the Pentagon, exactly? Maybe Trump is lining him up for something more minor like an ambassadorship, a sinecure that he could point to as evidence of his magnanimity towards a vanquished foe.
Or maybe Drew McCoy’s right and this is just a mega-troll by Trump:
Mitt for a cabinet spots seems more like something Trump would float so he could knock down and humiliate Romney in the process.
— Drew McCoy (@_Drew_McCoy_) November 17, 2016
Invite him to Trump Tower, make him kneel before Zod in private, then tell the press how positive and encouraging your chat was and that you might consider him for a position down the road. Even though you never will.
A friend emailed me after this news broke to say that it’s masterful strategy by Trump insofar as he seems to be trying to coopt all of his biggest potential threats in the party. Cruz, Haley, now Romney — they’re all people who could pose problems for him as fierce critics if Trump strays too far off the conservative reservation, and he’s building bridges to all of them this week. Whether they end up inside the administration or not, that should make them think twice about joining in the inevitable attacks from the left and their media friends once President Trump starts indulging some of his strongman instincts in office. That point is well taken, but Romney’s in a different position from Cruz and Haley in that his career’s over and he has nothing to lose by turning on Trump again. If Cruz and Haley step out of line, it could alienate enough Republicans to sink their presidential chances in 2024. If Romney gives Trump the benefit of the doubt after their meeting and next year Trump is bro-hugging Putin at international summits, Romney could always say that the probation period is over and that Trump turned out to be who he thought he was. And another thing: Why would Trump need to coopt Romney, exactly? Mitt has a national profile, true, but his criticism of Trump during the campaign didn’t even cost Trump Utah. If anything, attacks from Romney on Trump during his presidency might help shore up Trump’s support among the populist right. I’m not sure Trump needs to coopt him. It might just be a straightforward goodwill gesture.
Speaking of cabinet positions, read this NBC tick-tock of how Christie’s transition team ended up being cashiered along with the various nominees it recommended for key positions, like Bin-Laden-raid commander Adm. William McRaven. Quote: “Last week, when asked about Christie getting a role in the administration, one senior Trump official merely laughed.” We all know why, right?
State is also the job that Haley’s supposedly being considered for. Pretty clearly they’re using that position as a default reason to get Trump’s Republican enemies to come to Trump Tower and kiss the ring, even though they have no real intention of offering them the job. Like I said, Russia hawk Mitt Romney isn’t going to be chief diplomat for Putin bro Donald Trump.