Rom­ney, Gi­u­liani vie for State Dept.; Price pick at HHS

Baltimore Sun - - FRONT PAGE - By Philip Rucker and John Wag­ner

Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump is so far unswayed by dis­sen­sion among top ad­vis­ers over the pos­si­ble ap­point­ment of Mitt Rom­ney as sec­re­tary of state. Mean­while, Trump has re­port­edly picked Oba­macare critic Rep. Tom Price to head HHS.

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump is for now unswayed by the ex­traor­di­nar­ily pub­lic re­volt by some of his top ad­vis­ers and al­lies over the pos­si­ble choice of Mitt Rom­ney as sec­re­tary of state and con­tin­ues to see his foe as a se­ri­ous con­tender for the diplo­matic post, sev­eral peo­ple briefed on the de­lib­er­a­tions said Mon­day

Rom­ney plans to have a pri­vate din­ner to­day with Trump, who is said to be in­trigued by the no­tion of rec­on­cil­ing with one of his fiercest Re­pub­li­can an­tag­o­nists — even as he also weighs re­ward­ing the loy­alty of for­mer New York Mayor Rudy Gi­u­liani with one of the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s most prized jobs or se­lect­ing a dec­o­rated mil­i­tary of­fi­cer in David Pe­traeus.

Mean­while, Trump has cho­sen Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., an or­tho­pe­dic surgeon who has been one of Capi­tol Hill’s fiercest crit­ics of Pres­i­dent Obama’s health care law, to be sec­re­tary of health and hu­man ser­vices, a per­son briefed on the de­ci­sion con­firmed Mon­day night.

The pub­lic an­nounce­ment of Trump’s se­lec­tion of Price, a six- t erm con­gress­man who chairs the House Bud­get Com­mit­tee and is re­garded as a pol­icy wonk, is ex­pected to be made as early as to­day.

As HHS sec­re­tary, Price would be­come the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s point per­son on dis­man­tling and re­plac­ing the Af­ford­able Care Act, one of Trump’s ma­jor cam­paign prom­ises.

For sec­re­tary of state, Trump is look­ing for as­sur- an­ces that Rom­ney, the 2012 Re­pub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee who has cham­pi­oned a mus­cu­lar and at times in­ter­ven­tion­ist for­eign pol­icy, could be trusted to de­fend and pro­mote Trump’s markedly dif­fer­ent world­view in cap­i­tals around the globe, the peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the pres­i­dent-elect’s de­lib­er­a­tions said.

Gi­u­liani has openly cam­paigned for the job and has told friends that he is likely to get it. But Trump’s team has determined that it may be chal­leng­ing and even un­likely for Gi­u­liani to win Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion: His web of in­ter­na­tional busi­ness in­ter­ests and the mil­lions of dol­lars he has earned in paid speeches and con­sult­ing work for for­eign en­ti­ties would come un­der scru­tiny, while Sen. Rand Paul, one of 10 Repub­li­cans on the For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee, has threat­ened to block Gi­u­liani’s nom­i­na­tion.

Rom­ney and Gi­u­liani have been seen as co-fa­vorites to lead the State Depart­ment, but Trump this week is ex­pand­ing his search to in­clude other can­di­dates, chief among them Pe­traeus, a re­tired Army gen­eral and for­mer CIA di­rec­tor.

Tran­si­tion of­fi­cials said Trump has long ad­mired Pe­traeus and de­scribed his can­di­dacy as for­mi­da­ble, de­spite the bag­gage he would carry into any con­fir­ma­tion bat­tle be­cause of his 2015 con­vic­tion for mis­han­dling clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion. Pe­traeus’ pub­lic ser­vice ca­reer came to an end amid rev­e­la­tions that he had an af­fair with his bi­og­ra­pher, Paula Broad­well, and shared clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion with her.

Pe­traeus and Trump met Mon­day af­ter­noon in New York for about an hour, with Vice Pres­i­dent-elect Mike Pence join­ing them for part of the ses­sion. As the gen­eral ex­ited Trump Tower fol­low­ing their ses­sion, he praised Trump, telling reporters that he “showed a great grasp of a va­ri­ety of the chal­lenges that are out there and some of the op­por­tu­ni­ties as well. Very good con­ver­sa­tion.”

Trump later tweeted, “Just met with Gen­eral Pe­traeus — was very im­pressed!”

Trump will meet to­day with Sen. Bob Corker, RTenn., who of­fi­cials said could emerge as a can­di­date, although the sen­a­tor has said that he is un­likely to end up in se­ri­ous con­tention. As chair­man of the Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee, Corker would over­see the con­fir­ma­tion process of Trump’s nom­i­nee.

The nascent Trump tran­si­tion has been riven by in­fight­ing over the pos­si­ble nom­i­na­tion of Rom­ney, who is seen as the quin­tes­sen­tial es­tab­lish­ment fig­ure and who spoke out against Trump’s can­di­dacy in harsh and per­sonal terms.

Pence and some Trump ad­vis­ers are said to have ar­gued that Rom­ney would be a steady hand pre­pared to help shape re­la­tion­ships around the world. Trump is said to have buried the hatchet with Rom­ney at their Nov. 19 meet­ing and sees a po­lit­i­cal ben­e­fit to bring­ing him into the ad­min­is­tra­tion: si­lenc­ing a ri­val Re­pub­li­can who has a big mi­cro­phone and a net­work of wealthy donors.

But other Trump in­ti­mates have ad­vo­cated force­fully for Gi­u­liani, a trusted loy­al­ist and Trump de­fender who de­vel­oped a close bond with the candi- date and is more ide­o­log­i­cally in sync with him.

The feud spilled into the open over Thanks­giv­ing week­end as Kellyanne Con­way, Trump’s for­mer cam­paign man­ager and now a se­nior ad­viser, at­tacked Rom­ney’s cre­den­tials and trust­wor­thi­ness in a trio of Sun­day tele­vi­sion ap­pear­ances.


David Pe­traeus met with Don­ald Trump on Mon­day as the pres­i­dent-elect ex­pands his search for sec­re­tary of state.

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