What Would Mitt Romney Be Like As Trump's Secretary Of State?

Download Audio
President-elect Donald Trump and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney after their meeting in Bedminster, N.J. on Saturday, Nov. 19. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
President-elect Donald Trump and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney after their meeting in Bedminster, N.J. on Saturday, Nov. 19. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

President-elect Donald Trump made two more cabinet appointments on Wednesday — both of them women. He chose charter school advocate Betsy DeVos as his education secretary and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as U.N. ambassador. As for secretary of state, Trump is considering appointing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

The two men met over the weekend to talk about the post despite Romney's comments earlier this year about Trump's candidacy. In March, at the Hinckley Institute of Politics in Utah, Romney said, "Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud, his promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University."

We speak to Romney's former lieutenant governor about what he might be like as secretary of state.

Interview Highlights

On Why Romney Might Consider The Appointment Given His Relationship With Trump During The Campaign

"Certainly they have exchanged volleys, but now it's time to govern and that really requires you to look beyond yourself to what's best for the nation. And in my experience, Mitt Romney is above all, a patriot. And if he feels his service would benefit the country, then I believe that he would serve no matter what the context."

On Romney Compromising With Trump Administration

"It's very interesting because Mitt Romney actually has demonstrated significant ability throughout his political career to collaborate with former opponents to get very difficult and important jobs done.

"The thing that comes to mind most for me, is how closely he worked Ted Kennedy on making sure that there was bipartisan support for health care reform in Massachusetts. The so-called 'Romneycare' proposal that or act that eventually became incorporated at least in spirit into Obamacare and I remember in particular that when Ted Kennedy was there at the signing of the health care reforms in Massachusetts, he joked that if he and Mitt Romney were supporting the same bill, then perhaps one of them hadn't read it.

"But in truth, from the very beginning, when Mitt came into office as governor, he specifically reached out to Ted Kennedy and overcame all of the very harsh back and forth that had gone on when he had run against Senator Kennedy in 1994 to build a really strong coalition with him to work for something that was deeply important to both of them and he brought along the Democrats in the House and the Senate with him. So it was I think there is ample evidence that he can both get over the difficult campaign experiences and work constructively for the better purposes of government."


On Romney's Strengths

"I think that a strength is that he learns. He goes to other places and meets with foreign leaders with an open mind and does not always take the conventional approach.

"Back in 2010 in his book, 'No Apology,' as you may remember, Governor Romney was one of the first people to warn about an ascendant Russia and the threat that Russia could potentially pose to peace in Western Europe and elsewhere. And it wasn't a popular opinion. People really disregarded it and ridiculed that position but in truth, it's turned out to be very much the case. At that time, he strongly advocated for American leadership in the world and the need for that in a world that was trying to balance various ideologies and ambitions, between Russia and China and radical Islam.

"So there are strengths that I believe he could share with some of the members of the proposed and current Trump Administration as we're seeing it formed. But I'm sure that he would also feel very comfortable speaking out when he disagrees with the course of action."

On Romney's Weaknesses

"I have to say that after being both on his leadership team here in Massachusetts and working on two political campaigns with him, I did not see any weaknesses at all. And I believe that he would be a wonderful person to have back in public life in America and I hope that there's a path to it."

On Romney's Ability To Compromise And Stand Up To Competing Interests

"Mitt Romney is, and I believe we have many examples of the fact, that he's a principled leader. He is going to be willing to take unpopular positions. He's going to try to gather the best people around him.

"He has always tried to make sure that he was challenged by those around him, that there was open and frank discussion in cabinet meetings and elsewhere. Among campaign teams he was never shy about having people with very strong opposing views at the table and I'm sure that he continued to use that management approach and feel very comfortable dealing with people who had strong opposing views.

"He also knows any number of the people who may or are currently involved [in the Trump Administration] well, so I think he would be in a position to be able to have those discussions frankly."

On Doubt About Romney As Secretary Of State Among Republicans

"It's been only, not quite two weeks... there's probably a half a dozen people who have been mentioned as potential candidates for secretary of state. I'm sure they all have their advocates."


Kerry Healey, former lieutenant governor of Massachusetts and president of Babson College, which tweets @babson.

This segment aired on November 23, 2016.



More from Radio Boston

Listen Live