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Trump courts cabinet prospects at golf club

Mitt Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts and staunch critic of Donald Trump during the recent presidential campaign, left the clubhouse at Mr Trump’s New Jersey golf course with no announcement about whether he will join the new administration.

Donald Trump is holding meetings with prospective members of his administration at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey this weekend. Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee for president in 2012, arrived around 1pm and said “It’s good to be back” as he was greeted by Mr Trump and Mike Pence, the vice-president elect, on the clubhouse steps.

Mr Romney emerged after an hour and twenty minutes and addressed reporters, saying: “We had a far-reaching conversation with regard to the various theatres of the world, with interest to the United States of real significance. We discussed those areas and exchanged our views on those topics — a very thorough and in-depth discussion over the time we had. I appreciate the chance to speak with the president-elect and look forward to the coming administration.”

Mr Trump said the meeting “went great,” and from a top floor window of the clubhouse someone shouted, “We love you Mitt,” as Mr Romney climbed into a car to leave.

The rapprochement with Mr Romney amid talk of a possible role in the administration such as secretary of state is seen as an important nod to the Republican party establishment. It marks a reversal from the presidential campaign, during which Mr Romney labelled Donald Trump a “phoney” and “fraud” who was conning the American people.

A host of other potential additions to Mr Trump’s administration were also seen walking up the steps between tall, white, neoclassical columns to enter the clubhouse, which overlooks the golf course’s ninth hole.

In response to a reporter’s question about whether he saw the cabinet being shaped on Saturday evening Mr Trump replied, “yes”.

Michelle Rhee, the former chancellor of Washington DC public schools who is tipped for education secretary, arrived with her husband, former NBA star and current mayor of Sacramento Kevin Johnson. Betsy DeVos, another possibility for education secretary, was also seen arriving.

Steven Mnuchin, chairman of Dune Capital Management and Dune Entertainment Partners and longtime business associate of Mr Trump, was also seen entering the clubhouse. He is thought to be one option for treasury secretary. 

Meetings will continue on Sunday with Wilbur Ross, the billionaire investor tipped for commerce secretary, and New Jersey governor Chris Christie among those said to be sitting down with the president-elect. 

Rudy Giuliani, another potential nominee for secretary of state, is also said to be arriving tomorrow, along with David McCormick, who previously served at the Treasury and is now at hedge-fund Bridgewater. 

Mr Ross, who served as an economic adviser to Mr Trump’s campaign, and Mr Mnuchin, the campaign’s chief fundraiser, have already won the support of billionaire investor Carl Icahn, and would be seen as key to implementing Mr Trump’s plan to unleash US economic growth. 

As retired Marine general James Mattis left the clubhouse, Mr Trump called the potential pick for secretary of defence — who oversaw forces in the Middle East and clashed with President Barack Obama over his Iran policy — “the real deal.”

Eric Trump, Donald Trump’s son, was also present on Saturday despite concerns surrounding the transition team that Mr Trump’s family, who are set to take over the business tycoon’s affairs once he enters the White House, are too close to the president-elect’s dealings.

Also meeting with Mr Trump during the day were Tod Ricketts, co-owner of the Chicago Cubs baseball team, Bob Woodson, head of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise in Washington, CKE Restaurants chief executive Andrew Puzder and veteran financier and investor Lew Eisenburg.

“A lot of good decisions being made today,” Mr Trump said as Ms DeVos was leaving.

Via FT