NEW YORK • Republican Mitt Romney has made an impassioned statement in support of Mr Donald Trump to try to erase doubts about him among the President-elect's supporters and remain in contention for the post of US secretary of state.
Mr Romney, a fierce critic of Mr Trump during the Republican presidential primary battle, stopped short of an outright apology but his intention to wipe the slate clean was clear.
The former Massachusetts governor, the party's presidential nominee in 2012, praised Mr Trump for a "message of inclusion and bringing people together" since his Nov 8 victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Noting the appointments Mr Trump has made to fill key Cabinet positions for his administration and his desire for greater unity among Americans, Mr Romney said "all of those things combined give me increasing hope that President-elect Trump is the very man who can lead us" to a better future.
Mr Romney spoke after a lengthy meal on Tuesday with Mr Trump and Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus at a Trump hotel in Manhattan.
Since Mr Trump began to seriously consider Mr Romney as a potential secretary of state, some on his team have voiced doubts about bringing in a former critic and rallied around their preferred candidate, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, a long-time Trump friend and loyalist.
Leading this effort in an unusually public way has been senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, who said during TV interviews on Sunday that Trump supporters would feel "betrayed" if Mr Romney was picked.
But Mr Trump has kept Mr Romney in contention for the post, and a source close to the transition effort said Mr Priebus has been pushing for Mr Romney behind the scenes.
"I had a wonderful evening with President-elect Trump," Mr Romney told reporters after the dinner. "We had another discussion about affairs throughout the world and these discussions I've had with him have been enlightening, and interesting, and engaging. I've enjoyed them very, very much."
Mr Trump is to meet tomorrow, for the second time, retired marine corps general John Kelly as part of his secretary of state search, the aide said. Mr Trump is also considering Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. They met earlier on Tuesday.