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Trump meets with rival Romney, fueling secretary of state speculation

The president-elect has met with his fierce critic Mitt Romney as he assembles his Cabinet. Despite the former GOP candidate's stance on Trump, the meeting has fed rumors that Romney could be the next secretary of state.

The 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney met with President-elect Donald Trump on Saturday, trading smiles and tight handshakes as the two set aside a fierce rivalry.

During the hour-and-20 minute meeting at Trump's golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, Romney told reporters the two had a "far-reaching conversation with regards to the various theaters in the world."

"We discussed those areas, and exchanged our views on those topics - a very thorough and in-depth discussion in the time we had." Romney said.

Analysts have speculated that the more mainstream Republican is being considered for the position of Secretary of State. Romney declined on Saturday to say whether or not he had been offered the position.

The 'phony' and the 'choke artist'

Throughout Trump's 18-month presidential campaign, Romney was part of the Republican establishment "Never Trump" movement to block Trump's nomination. He previously said Trump would be dangerous as a president and that "when it comes to foreign policy he is very, very not smart."

In a tweet as recent as October 7, in the aftermath of a leaked video wherein Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women, Romney condemned his comments. "Such vile degradations demean our wives and daughters and corrupt America's face to the world," he wrote.

In another tweet from March, he called Trump a "phony," adding that "his promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University." Yesterday, Trump agreed to a $25 million out of court settlement in three cases related to his unaccredited real estate lecture series.

Trump has also denounced Romney, calling him a "choke artist" for losing to President Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election. In a February 25 tweet, Trump called Romney a "dope" and "one of the dumbest and worst candidates in the history of Republican politics."

If Romney were to be offered the job of secretary of state, it is still not clear whether or not he would accept the position. A person close to Romney told Reuters news agency that it was unlikely that Romney would be offered the position.

The source described Saturday's meeting as more of a symbol of unity within the Republican party who were split by Trump's campaign, giving the "seal of approval to Republicans who don't know if they should help Trump or not."

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giulianiis also favored for the diplomatic post.

Filling out the cabinet

With some 15 senior positions in his Cabinet still to fill, the president-elect met with several other administration contenders at his sprawling golf club in New Jersey - an hour and a half away from the protesters camped outside his Trump Tower headquarters in Manhattan.

He also met with retired General James Mattis on Saturday, who is possibly being considered for the defense secretary position. He also met with two candidates for education secretary: Michelle Rhee and Betsy DeVos. Rhee is a former chancellor of Washington DC schools and polarizing figure who fought teachers' unions in her advocacy of charter schools. Devos is the former head of the Michigan Republican Party and an advocate of school vouchers.

On Friday, Trump announced that Senator Jeff Sessions would be the Attorney General. Sessions is an immigration hardliner who came under fire in the 1980s for using racially charged language against civil rights groups, which cost him a job as a federal judge.

The President-elect also tapped Iran-deal opponent Mike Pompeo to lead the CIA. Trump also named Stephen Bannon, former head of the ultra-conservative website Breitbart News, as his chief strategist. The picks so far suggest that Trump plans on taking ultra-hardline approaches to immigration and Islamic extremism.

Democrats and members of minority groups have voiced significant concern over Trump's administration picks so far, saying his choices threaten unity and could undo progress for racial, religious and sexual minorities in the US.

rs/kl  (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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