- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 19, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump’s most dramatic meeting Saturday will be his sit-down with outspoken critic Mitt Romney, but he’ll also be holding discussions and interviews with more than a half dozen high-profile visitors.

The meeting schedule includes a retired general, education experts, business titans and an anti-poverty crusader.

Mr. Romney arrived Friday night at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, en route to the meeting with the president-elect at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, where Mr. Trump moved his transition team for the weekend.

At the private golf club, Mr. Trump has meetings scheduled with former D.C. schools chief Michelle Rhee and school-choice advocate Betsy DeVos, who are considered in the running for secretary of education in the Trump administration.

Retired Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis, who is being eyed to head up the Pentagon, also will sit across the interview desk from Mr. Trump.

Robert L. Woodson Sr., who runs the anti-poverty Center for Neighborhood Enterprise in Washington, is meeting with Mr. Trump. He has said that he’s under consideration for secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Mr. Trump also is scheduled to meet with:

* Todd Ricketts, owner of the World Series champion Chicago Cubs and director of the Ending Spending Super PAC that fights wasteful federal spending;

* Andy Puzder, the chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants, which runs the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s fast-food chains; and

* Lou Eisenberg, an finance and investment mogul who also served as chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey during the September 11 terror attack on the World Trade Center.

But there’s no doubt that the most awkward meeting will be with Mr. Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee who inserted himself into the 2016 race as an outspoken critic of Mr. Trump and a driving force in the GOP establishment effort to derail the billionaire businessman’s primary campaign.

He called Mr. Trump a “phony” and a “fraud,” and warned that what he described as Mr. Trump’s reckless behavior and uninformed foreign policy views would threaten the safety of America and the world.

Mr. Trump dismissed Mr. Romney as a “choke artist” and “loser” for failing to defeat President Obama in 2012.

But as the two are now set to powwow amid speculation about Cabinet appointments, Mr. Romney’s name has been floated as a possible pick to run the State Department or the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Trump transition team spokesman Jason Miller downplayed the speculation about a role for Mr. Romney in the administration.

“He’s meeting with some of the best and the brightest and most qualified people, not only for specific roles in the administration but also to get advice and counsel on the policies and structure of how to best gather a team and enact a successful agenda,” he told reporters.

“It also goes to the fact that President-elect Trump is not putting together meetings based on political affiliation or whether they supported him in the past,” said Mr. Miller. “He’s bringing together a broad and diverse team to come up with a number of different policies and procedures and specific team members to help move our country forward.”

• S.A. Miller can be reached at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

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