Trump’s White House transition also aims at party unity, mending fences
President-elect Donald Trump’s White House transition effort is starting to look like a 2016 GOP presidential primary reunion, with former rival Rick Perry scheduled for talks Monday as part of an apparent effort to mend fences and build party unity ahead of Inauguration Day.
On Sunday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a primary rival-turned Trump backer, was part of a parade of officials who visited the president-elect, who moved his transition team’s headquarters for the weekend from Manhattan to Trump’s private golf club in Bedminster, N.J.
The most high-profile visit this weekend was the arrival Saturday of former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who during the 2016 campaign called Trump a “fraud” and publically backed several of the other 16 major candidates whom Trump vanquished in the primary.
Trump, a first-time candidate, in turn called Romney a “choke artist” for his failed 2012 White House bid against President Obama. Both men suggested their roughly 90-minute meeting went well. But it remains unlcear whether apologies were exchanged or if Romney is interested in the secretary of state post.
“They did have some private time together, and you can ask either one of them what they talked about,” Vice President-elect Mike Pence told “Fox News Sunday.”
Pence did confirm the widely-held assumption that Romney is indeed being considered to run the State Department, as Trump attempts to fill dozens of Cabinet-level posts and other high-level jobs.
He also said that Trump “wants to focus out of the gate” on repealing “ObamaCare” — a plan that new Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York acquaintance of Trump’s, told “Fox News Sunday” that he’ll strongly oppose.
Other contenders for secretary of state are said to be former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who met with Trump on Thursday.
Trump on Saturday also met with retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, a possible candidate for defense secretary. He later said on Twitter that Mattis was “very impressive” and called him a “true General’s General!”
Also Sunday, Trump met with billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, a possible secretary of commerce; former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is also purportedly in the running for secretary of state; and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
Kobach served as an adviser to the Trump campaign on immigration issues and has a background in designing laws cracking down people who are here illegally.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a finalist in the hard-fought GOP primary, last week visited Trump at Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan.
“I think we had a very good and productive conversation about how we can work together to really deliver on the promises made to people,” Cruz said afterward on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends.”
On Friday, Trump picked Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general and Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo to head the CIA, signaling a sharp rightward shift in U.S. security policy as he begins to form his Cabinet.
Trump also named retired Lt. Gen Michael Flynn as his national security adviser. A former military intelligence chief, Flynn has accused the Obama administration of being too soft on terrorism and has cast Islam as a “political ideology” and driver of extremism.