I voted against Mitt Romney in 2012. I didn't think he would be as good of a choice for the presidency as another term of Barack Obama. I stand by that choice, though I do often wonder about an alternative universe where Romney ran for president in 2016 and the whole nightmare of an election we just went through never happened. But despite my vote against him, I can think of few choices Trump can make as president that would put me at ease more than appointing Mitt Romney as Secretary of State.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Romney is currently in top contention for America's top diplomat. Romney is reportedly the top choice of Trump himself, though he still competes against Rudy Giuliani, who has advocated for the job but faces potential vetting issues related to foreign clients he'd worked for and stated opposition from Rand Paul, a Republican senator who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee.
Romney's name is surprising considering the history of bad blood between him and Trump. Though Trump endorsed Romney in the 2012 presidential election, he has since repeatedly bashed the former Massachusetts governor, saying he lost to Obama because he "choked." Romney was a consistent and harsh critic of Trump during the 2016 election, making an impassioned speech against him during the primaries and saying he represented "trickle down racism" during the general election.
It is this division, more than anything, that makes a Romney appointment within the Trump administration so potentially important. Trump spent much fo the campaign displaying a penchant for vindictiveness and an inability to accept criticism. Appointing one of his biggest critics would be a sign that he may be able to govern in a different way, to accept differing viewpoints within his administration, and to have a voice in his government with strong respect and authority within the political class, presumably able to voice opinions contrary to his boss.
Those opinions advocated by Romney would be vital in a Trump administration. Trump, in his desire to drastically pull America back from its international obligations, such as foreign aid, trade deals, and possibly even NATO, could be making a massive break with the foreign policy — not only of his predecessor Barack Obama, but of all American presidents since Franklin Roosevelt. Romney, in the 2012 election, advocated for American leadership worldwide. Trump has repeatedly defended Vladimir Putin and seeks a closer relationship with Russia, even as U.S, intelligence officials have accused it of meddling in American elections. Romney, in 2012, called Russia the United States' "number one geopolitical foe."
After winning the election, Trump's foreign policy doctrine will undoubtably win the day, and even having Romney running the State Department will not stop that. But having a strong voice in his administration that disagrees with Trump's foreign policy could mean that the radical changes Trump has planned could be enacted in a measured and reasonable way, without upending the whole of international structures. And with Romney, who, whatever you think of his politics, has received widespread praise as an administrator, the Trump administration's difficult task of guiding the ship of state could become much smoother.