President-elect Donald Trump is leaning toward asking former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to be his secretary of state, according to people familiar with the deliberations.
The next U.S. president is also likely to name retired Marine Gen.James Mattis to serve as secretary of defense in his administration, and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is the leading candidate to be the next ambassador to the United Nations, the people said.
Delaying Mr. Trump’s decision about secretary of state is an internal tug of war between supporters of Mr. Romney, and those urging the selection of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. A third group is pressing the president-elect to keep searching for candidates.
The New York businessman views Mr. Romney as the prototypical choice to be the nation’s top diplomat, and a group of advisers inside the transition are pushing him to select the 2012 Republican presidential nominee. Two people said Mr. Trump is inclined to select Mr. Romney.
A Michigan native, Mr. Romney was the son of prominent auto executive and later Michigan Gov. George Romney. Before turning to politics, Mr. Romney founded Bain Capital, a private-equity firm, and rescued the financially troubled 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, during which he interacted with an array of world leaders. He was elected governor of Massachusetts that same year.
Messrs. Trump and Romney were very critical of each other during the 2016 campaign, but both men appear to be ready to put that behind them. Vice President-elect Mike Pence greeted Mr. Romney personally outside the Bedminster, N.J., golf club where Mr. Trump was interviewing prospective appointees over the weekend. On Sunday, Mr. Pence said the session between Mr. Trump and Mr. Romney was “a very substantive meeting.”
But another faction is still pushing for Mr. Giuliani, who was one of Mr. Trump’s earliest supporters and has openly campaigned for the job. Mr. Giuliani, after leaving the mayor’s office, created a security consulting firm that has contracts with some foreign governments, including Qatar and Colombia.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, speaking to reporters after meeting with Mr. Trump on Monday, said “there are huge advantages to Rudy Giuliani frankly, I think that, if you want someone who is going to go out and be a very tough negotiator for America and represent American interest in the way that Trump campaigned, I think that probably Rudy is a better pick and has the right temperament.”
A spokeswoman for Mr. Romney didn’t return messages seeking comment. Jason Miller, a spokesman for Mr. Trump, said “absolutely no decision has been made” on secretary of state.
Ms. Haley would be the first woman—and first minority—to join Mr. Trump’s administration.
“It was a good meeting. We talked about a multiple group of topics and it was nice meeting,” Ms. Haley told reporters.
Rob Godfrey, her deputy chief of staff, said Ms. Haley “is very encouraged about the coming administration and the new direction it will bring to Washington.”
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