Once Mitt Romney got over the shock of learning President Donald Trump was considering him as a possible secretary of state, one of the people he spoke to about the offer was the candidate Trump defeated, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Speaking Friday at the E2 summit in Deer Valley, Utah, Romney — who in March 2016 ignited the Republican Never Trump movement with a fiery speech castigating Trump politically and personally — revealed for the first time how he learned he was under consideration and what he did next.
“I was actually playing golf,” Romney said.
A friend invited me and Ann to go to Hawaii. I was not playing very well and the phone rang — it was Mike Pence on the phone saying the president would like to consider you for secretary of state. Would you come back and meet with him?” Romney recalled.
Romney said that given the tenor of the presidential campaign and his opposition to Trump he was “shocked” to receive the call.
After telling Pence he would mull over the offer, he started dialing.
“I spoke with former President Bush, I spoke with virtually all the former secretaries of state,” Romney recounted.
“I spoke with Secretary Clinton, and in each case, each of them said, ‘Please, please take that job if it is offered to you. We would very much like to see you serve in that capacity,’” he said.
Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts and the 2012 GOP nominee for president, said he was heartened that Trump would even ask because it gave him hope Trump would consider diverse viewpoints.
Although Romney said he would have taken the job if offered, Trump — after meeting with Romney — ended up tapping former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, a move Romney said was the right choice.
“I probably was not the right person to have the job — in part because of how far apart we were,” Romney said.
“We saw things very differently on the foreign policy front,” Romney said. “I though that that kind of openness was very encouraging and if he was willing to have me in that position, then I would be anxious to serve.”
Although Romney did not support Trump, he said he agrees with the president 70 to 80 percent of the time.
“We’re not as far apart as I feared early on,” he said.