It can’t have been easy for either man.
But Saturday’s meeting between Mitt Romney and Donald Trump ‘went great’ according to the US president-elect.
Formerly one of Trump’s fiercest Republican critics, Romney is now being tipped as a potential Secretary of State.
Emerging from Trump’s National Golf Club in New Jersey after the meeting, Romney told reporters the pair had had a “very thorough and in-depth discussion in the time we had”.
In March, however, Romney said Trump would be dangerous as president, with policies that could touch off a recession. Romney also said, “I’m afraid that when it comes to foreign policy he is very, very not smart.”
Trump had denounced Romney as a “choke artist” for losing the 2012 election to President Barack Obama.
But with the New York real estate developer now president-in-waiting, Romney’s invitation for talks with Trump on an unseasonably warm November day was symbolic of hard-won party unity.
Also invited to the golf club in Bedminster on Saturday was retired Marine General James Mattis, who is considered a strong contender for defence secretary.
Talks on Sunday were due with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, recently demoted in his role on Trump’s transition team.
With hints at announcements in the hours ahead, Trump and his Vice Presidential pick Mike Pence were keen to show the process is going well.
After a day of meetings on Saturday, Trump emerged to tell reporters that his search process was going “really efficiently” and that he had spoken to “really, really talented” people who could form part of his Cabinet.
Asked if Mattis would be his defence secretary, Trump said, “He’s a great guy. He is some great man”.
Whether Romney will join the Trump administration is unclear. Romney, a more mainstream Republican, would serve alongside more hawkish Trump appointees named on Friday: Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama as attorney general, retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn as national security adviser and Representative Mike Pompeo as CIA director.
Those nominations suggest Trump is setting up his administration to take a hard line confronting Islamist militancy and curbing illegal immigration.
Some 4,000 political appointees must be picked by Trump and his team to keep the US government operating. He is due to be sworn into office in exactly two months time.