Kellyanne Conway said Sunday that many of President-Elect Donald Trump’s loyal supporters would feel “betrayed” if former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney were nominated to be secretary of state, saying that this important position should not be used as “the cost of admission for party unity.”
“I only wish Gov. Romney had been as critical of Hillary Clinton and her policy positions,” Trump’s former campaign manager said on ABC News’ “This Week.” “So we’re all for party unity. I don’t think the cost of admission for party unity has to be the secretary of state position.”
“I’m all for party unity, but I’m not sure we have to pay for that with the secretary of state position.”
Conway noted that Trump has already made great progress in extending the olive branch to former Republican critics and adversaries.
“I’m all for party unity. I’m a big party unity person,” Conway said. “And look what Donald Trump’s done — he’s got Nikki Haley in the Cabinet as U.N. ambassador, daughter of Indian immigrants. He’s met with Ted Cruz, taken calls from Mitt Romney, from Jeb Bush, from John Kasich, from Carly Fiorina. He’s working with Speaker Ryan. Reince Priebus, the [Republican National Committee] chairman, is now his chief of staff going into this new White House.”
Trump has shown his desire for GOP unity, Conway said, and she commended him for his choices. But the secretary of state position, Conway said, should not be given to someone who vehemently opposed Trump’s candidacy or his policy positions.
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“I’m all for party unity, but I’m not sure we have to pay for that with the Secretary of state position,” Conway said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” adding that feedback she received from loyal Trump voters indicates they would feel “betrayed” by a Romney selection.
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“I’m just saying, we don’t even know if Mitt Romney voted for Donald Trump,” Conway said. “I think there are concerns that those of us that are loyal have, and we want a secretary of state who’s loyal to the president.”
Following Conway’s Sunday show appearances, she responded to a tweet from political commentator Ana Navarro in which she said, “Astounding to hear K. Conway, who has the ability to tell Trump privately, trash possibility of Romney as Sec of State publicly on @CNNSotu.”
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“I did tell him privately. And I’ll respect his decision,” Conway responded. “Point is the volume & intensity of grassroots resistance to Romney is breathtaking.”
Other Trump aides and high-profile supporters have also expressed their concerns with a potential Romney selection.
“It’s not about that I don’t care for Mitt personally, but I’m still very unhappy that Mitt did everything he could to derail Donald Trump,” former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said Wednesday on Fox News. “He didn’t just go after him from a standpoint of saying ‘I disagree with his policy on immigration’ or ‘I disagree with his policy on taxes.’ He attacked him on a personal level about his character, integrity, his honor.”
“It would be a real insult to all those Donald Trump voters who worked really hard. That’s what I think he has to stop and consider,” Huckabee added.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich also expressed his disapproval, calling Romney the “most vicious and most explicit opponent all through the campaign on the Republican side.”
“I can think of 20 other people who would be more naturally compatible with the Trump vision of foreign policy,” Gingrich said Tuesday on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
“You have to list out all the things he said and think, ‘Is this guy really gonna be loyal?'” Gingrich added Wednesday on Fox News. “I will support whoever President-Elect Trump picks because he has the right, I think, as the new president, to build the team he wants to build, but I would suggest there are a lot of other people who are more qualified than Romney in foreign policy and who also have not been as actively hostile as he’s been.”