-Anietie Udobit, agency reports
Mitt Romney is a key contender to become the nation’s next secretary of state, and retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis was an “impressive” prospect for defense secretary, President-elect Donald Trump and his No. 2, Mike Pence, said Sunday.
“Gov. Romney is under active and serious consideration to serve as secretary of state of the United States,” Pence, the vice president-elect who is leading the search for Trump’s cabinet members, said in an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
On Sunday, Trump tweeted, “General James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, who is being considered for secretary of defense, was very impressive yesterday. A true General’s General!”
The comments were indications that Trump is looking outside his immediate circle as he works toward rounding out his foreign policy and national security teams. On Friday, he named a loyalist, retired Gen. Michael Flynn, as his national security adviser.
Trump told reporters Sunday that one of his most devoted and public allies, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, was also a prospect for secretary of state “and other things.” Giuliani at one point had been considered for attorney general, but Trump gave that job to Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama.
Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and 2012 GOP presidential contender, and Trump exchanged bitter insults during the campaign, and Mattis has not been considered a Trump confidante. The appointment of more establishment figures could offer some reassurance to lawmakers and others concerned about Trump’s hard-line positions on immigration and national security and his lack of foreign policy experience.
But even as Trump and his team discussed pressing issues facing the country and how to staff the incoming administration, the president-elect’s Twitter feed suggested other issues too were on his mind.
His targets Sunday included retiring Democratic Leader Harry Reid. Trump tweeted that incoming Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer, another media-savvy New Yorker, was “far smarter” than Reid and “has the ability to get things done.”
Trump also complained that “Saturday Night Live,” which thrives on making fun of politicians, is “biased” and not funny. The night before, actor Alec Baldwin portrayed Trump as Googling, “What is ISIS?” — the acronym for the Islamic State extremist group. Meanwhile, Trump received more visitors to his golf club in New Jersey on Sunday. Besides Giuliani, Trump met with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, his former transition chairman who was replaced by Pence after the election.
Trump’s transition team said former Texas governor and GOP presidential rival Rick Perry is expected to meet with Trump on Monday.
The businessman and president-elect also apparently was considering prospects to lead the Commerce Department, meeting with billionaire investor Wilbur Ross. “Time will tell,” Ross told reporters when asked if he wanted to the post.
Trump also was making plans for transitioning his family. He told reporters Sunday that his wife, Melania, and their 10-year-old son, Barron, would move to Washington when the school year ends.
Both Romney and Trump put on a show of smiles, a public handshake and a thumbs-up Saturday, a marked shift in tone after a year in which Romney attacked Trump as a “con man” and Trump labeled him a “loser.” But the two have started to mend fences since Trump’s victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton.