Mitt Romney refused to apologize publicly for harshly criticizing President-elect Donald Trump during the campaign, possibly taking himself out of the running for secretary of state as a result.
Trump was willing to forgive the former Republican nominee for the remarks and nominate him to run the Department of State, but thought a public apology might pacify some of his aides who were not, reports CNN. But Romney reportedly refused, and Trump moved on to other possibilities for the important position, eventually landing on ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson.
Top aides Kellyanne Conway and Steve Bannon viewed Romney’s criticisms of Trump to be unforgivable, and strongly opposed the idea of appointing him to run the State Department, sources familiar with the transition process told CNN.
Simply put, Trump wanted Romney to publicly apologize as a way of smoothing out the tension, an idea also supported by Vice President-elect Mike Pence.
Trump approached Romney about the apology after Conway and others openly attacked the idea of picking Romney for secretary of state. If Romney publicly said he was “wrong” about Trump on the campaign trail, perhaps his critics would be satisfied, Trump figured. But Romney refused to apologize, saying he was willing to give forward-looking praise to Trump but not to walk back comments he made during the campaign. (PHOTO: Romney Looked Really Uncomfortable Meeting With Trump)
Romney called Trump a “phony” and a “fraud” during the campaign. “If Donald Trump’s plans were ever implemented, the country would sink into a prolonged recession,” he said in a speech in Utah. He added: “Trump says he admires Vladimir Putin, while he has called George W. Bush a liar. That is a twisted example of evil trumping good.”
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