During the 2016 campaign, Mitt Romney was as articulate as anyone in either party about the dangers posed by Donald Trump. It was the first time in modern history that the most recent presidential nominee of a major party went out of his way to condemn his successor on his party's ticket, and Romney adopted this role with great enthusiasm, blasting Trump over
again.Nevertheless, the president-elect is looking for a credible Secretary of State, and Trump recently met with Romney so that they could resolve their differences and explore the possibility of Romney joining the incoming president's team.The reaction from prominent members of Trump's inner circle is unlike anything we've seen in modern times. Politico reported
the other day:
Donald Trump's struggle to find a secretary of state has erupted into an early battle for the soul of his nascent presidency -- a critical showdown between the insurgents who thrust him into office and establishment Republicans pushing for a more conventional White House.At the moment, the internal debate over who should serve as the steward of the country's foreign policy pits advocates for bombastic ex-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani against those for caustic Trump critic Mitt Romney, the GOP's 2012 nominee. The behind-the-scenes battle exploded into public view on Thanksgiving Day, after Trump stalwarts began viewing Romney as a serious contender.
That was published on Friday. Yesterday, it was clear the battle was intensifying -- and it was anything but "behind the scenes."Kellyanne Conway, Trump's campaign manager and spokesperson, has led the very public charge against Romney as Secretary of State, arguing yesterday
, "People feel betrayed to think that Gov. Romney, who went out of his way to question the character and the intellect and the integrity of Donald Trump ... would be given the most significant cabinet post of all."She's hardly alone. Newt Gingrich said
yesterday, "I think there's nothing that Mitt Romney can say that doesn't sound phony and, frankly, pathetic.... Speaking for most of the Trump supporters, while we will support President-elect Trump and whatever he does, I think we would be enormously disappointed if he brought Mitt Romney into any position of authority."This morning, Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), the co-chair of Trump's House Leadership Committee, called
Romney a "self-serving egomaniac" who has a "chip on his shoulder."Let's not miss the forest for the trees here: the president-elect is considering someone for Secretary of State, and the president-elect's allies are running around trying to tear down the cabinet contender. While some internal squabbling is inevitable, I can't recall ever seeing anything like this open warfare while the process is ongoing.Fox News reported even over the holiday weekend that if Romney wants to join the cabinet, he's going to have to apologize
for his previous criticisms of Trump.What in the world is all of this about? Mother Jones
' Kevin Drum highlighted
the three main possibilities:
1. Conway and Gingrich want to influence Trump, and they know the only real way to get his attention is via TV.2. This whole thing has been orchestrated by Trump as a way of publicly humiliating Romney.3. The Trump inner circle is truly an out-of-control freak show.
Note, more than one of these possibilities may be true.Of course, the vast majority of Trump's cabinet posts remain unfilled at this point in the process. If you were under consideration, and you took note of the Romney mess, would you want to join Team Trump?