Donald Trump met with Mitt Romney today in one of a flurry of meetings the president-elect held at his New Jersey golf course.
Romney arrived at Trump’s golf club shortly before 1 p.m. and appeared to warmly shake hands with Trump, each man gripping the arm of the other. Romney said “good to see you, sir.” As Romney shook hands with Pence, the president-elect placed his hand on Romney’s back.
The meeting is an about-face for both Trump and Romney. The former Massachusetts governor was a fierce critic of Trump’s GOP candidacy, but he is now being floated as a potential pick for secretary of state in the new administration.
Romney told CNN in June that a Trump presidency could bring “trickle-down racism, trickle-down bigotry, trickle-down misogyny” to the nation. Trump said Romney “choked like a dog” in 2012 in his failed bid to unseat President Barack Obama.
Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence are also planning to meet this weekend with Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, an immigration hard-liner who is on Trump’s transition team; and Robert Woodson, who told The Washington Post that he is under consideration to be secretary of housing and urban development. Visitors will also include New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was ousted as chair of Trump’s transition team; Michelle Rhee, the controversial former D.C. schools chancellor; and Patrick Soon-Shiong, a billionaire oncologist who advised Vice President Biden’s efforts to combat cancer.
“These meetings that the president-elect and vice president-elect are having really show the root and the depth to which we’re going to pull in diverse ideas and different perspectives as we form this administration,” Trump spokesman Jason Miller said Saturday.
Some visitors, he said, are “potential administration hires” while others are coming only to offer advice.
“The president-elect is bringing together folks who have been on the opposite side of him politically,” Miller said.
Questions about Trump’s ability to bring Americans together arose onstage Friday night on Broadway.
In a Saturday morning tweetstorm – a communication method Trump often employed as a candidate but is unprecedented for a president-elect – Trump said Pence was “harassed” Friday night at a New York theater, where he went to see “Hamilton,” a musical about Alexander Hamilton that features a diverse cast and crew.
“Our wonderful future V.P. Mike Pence was harassed last night at the theater by the cast of Hamilton, cameras blazing. This should not happen!” Trump tweeted.
Pence walked into the theater to a chorus of both cheers and boos. At the curtain call, the cast stood onstage and actor Brandon Victor Dixon addressed Pence, who apparently was walking out of the theater. Some in the crowd started to boo, and Dixon told his audience that there is “nothing to boo here” and urged Pence to hear him out. Dixon pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket and said the message needed to be heard “far and wide,” and encouraged audience members to record and share it.
“Vice president-elect Pence, we welcome you and we truly thank you for joining us here at ‘Hamilton: An American musical.’ We really do,” Dixon, who plays Aaron Burr, said.
“We sir, we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us,” Dixon said. “We truly thank you for sharing this show.”
“Hamilton” is the hottest ticket on Broadway, and the show took home 11 Tony awards earlier this year. The musical traces the life of former treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton, from his humble beginnings and Caribbean birth to his ascent in government.
A spokesman for the show told the Associated Press that Pence stood outside the theater to listen to Dixon. Trump, on Twitter, said the cast should apologize.
“The Theater must always be a safe and special place. The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!”
Dixon wrote back to Trump: “@realDonaldTrump conversation is not harassment sir. And I appreciate @mike_pence for stopping to listen.”
Trump also addressed a $25 million settlement to end the fraud cases pending against Trump University, a defunct real estate seminar program. Trump, who had repeatedly claimed that he never settled lawsuits despite doing so for years, will now not be faced with the prospect of testifying in court during his presidential transition.
“I settled the Trump University lawsuit for a small fraction of the potential award because as President I have to focus on our country,” Trump tweeted.
He added: “The ONLY bad thing about winning the Presidency is that I did not have the time to go through a long but winning trial on Trump U. Too bad!”
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Friday that the settlement includes a $1 million penalty paid to the state for claiming the program was a “university” even though it did not offer degrees, violating New York education law.
On Saturday, Trump’s campaign defended the president-elect’s most recent Cabinet picks, three staunch conservatives who signal that Trump intends to deliver on his hard-line campaign promises regarding immigration policy, voting rights, policing and domestic surveillance of Muslims.
Trump plans to nominate Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., as attorney general and Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., as CIA director, and he has chosen retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn as his national security adviser.
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Katie Zezima, David Nakamura