Utahns need not hold their breath any longer. Mitt Romney will not be the country’s secretary of state.
President-elect Donald Trump announced via Twitter on Tuesday morning that he nominated Rex Tillerson, the chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil, to the position. Tillerson had been pegged as the potential pick over the weekend.
I will hold a press conference in the near future to discuss the business, Cabinet picks and all other topics of interest. Busy times!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2016
Trump touted Tillerson’s ability to make deals with foreign leaders as a reason why he should hold the foreign policy position.
Tillerson has previously made deals with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to the New York Times.
The thing I like best about Rex Tillerson is that he has vast experience at dealing successfully with all types of foreign governments.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2016
The decision ends the month-long speculation about who the president-elect would pick for the position. Mitt Romney — the 2012 Republican Party presidential nominee who made a name for himself overseas for taking over the embattled 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City — had been pegged for the job.
Romney — despite his words against Trump during the 2016 election, calling him a “fraud” and a “phony” — went out to dinner with the president-elect to discuss the job, and held meetings with him. The ongoing deliberations also inspired a Romney meme.
Experts said Romney would be a strong pick for the position, given that he and Trump had differing views on foreign policy that would complement each other, according to the Deseret News.
"With Romney, he would be taking a more inclusive, conciliatory approach that befits his lack of any mandate, tries to move the country past such a divisive campaign and reassures jittery allies," Frank Bruni wrote for the New York Times. "It would be an open-minded, big-hearted, self-aware move that challenges Americans to see him in a more nuanced light. It would help him govern, by signaling that he’s bigger than his grievances."
But on Monday, Trump called Romney to tell him he wouldn’t receive the position, according to multiple sources.
Scoop: Trump called Romney to tell him he's not getting post, I'm told.— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) December 13, 2016
Pres-elect expressed nothing but respect for him in recent days.
When news broke Monday that he wouldn’t receive the position, Romney said “it was an honor to have been considered.”
It was an honor to have been considered for Secretary of State of our great country. https://t.co/FC9tB7rdoy— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) December 13, 2016
Political pundits and media members expressed their thoughts on the former Massachusetts governor and why he would have made a good pick.
My premise is that Romney was reasonable to believe he'd be a better SOS for the country than the alternatives. Not just personal ambition.— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) December 13, 2016
Sympathetic to Romney, who's smart enough to know he had an 80% chance of being humiliated. But SOS=high reward. Took some guts & integrity.— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) December 13, 2016
Confess Your Unpopular Opinion:— Kevin M. Kruse (@KevinMKruse) December 13, 2016
I think Mitt Romney sought the Secretary of State job because he's a patriot.
I like Mitt Romney. He’s a good guy.— Mollie (@MZHemingway) December 13, 2016
.@MittRomney is a really good person and was just trying to help America. If the goal was to embarrass, the goal was doomed to fail.— Shoshana Weissmann, Sloth Committee Chair (@senatorshoshana) December 13, 2016
So many well-qualified candidates--Petraeus, Romney, Stavridis--who are not linked to Putin. Choice of Tillerson sends distressing signal.— Max Boot (@MaxBoot) December 13, 2016
Of course, tweeters said Trump tried to humiliate Romney by leading him on for the position as payback for Romney’s previous comments.
Donald Trump just played Mitt Romney into disqualifying himself from ever speaking out or daring to criticize his presidency. pic.twitter.com/jUwErr7K6n— Greg Hogben (@MyDaughtersArmy) December 13, 2016
“Donald Trump was interviewing Mitt Romney for Secretary of State in order to torture him,” says Roger Stone. https://t.co/KSWtNX313W— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) December 12, 2016
Still, Romney emerged with his head held high, experts said.
I don't think Romney gave anything up here. He can always say later "I gave him the benefit of the doubt. He didn't live up to it."— Josh Barro (@jbarro) December 13, 2016
I don’t fault Romney for answering the call. But the price (basically, his dignity) was steep. And he musta suspected it would end this way— Sam Stein (@samstein) December 13, 2016