Mitt Romney says he was surprised Trump reached out to him for cabinet job

"I see it as a welcome sign that he will be open to alternative views and even to critics."

FILE Ñ Mitt Romney speaks to reporters after returning from a dinner with President-elect Donald Trump, in New York, Nov. 29, 2016. As Trump fills his cabinet with people of wealth and power, he is rekindling animosity between his anti-establishment supporters and more traditional Republicans, a rift that could test his new coalition. (Sam Hodgson/The New York Times)
Mitt Romney speaks to reporters after returning from a dinner with President-elect Donald Trump in New York last month. –Sam Hodgson / The New York Times

After being passed over for President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of state pick, Mitt Romney wrote a two-paragraph letter to the editor Saturday in his hometown newspaper, The Salt Lake Tribune, reflecting on the experience.

After shortly rebuffing a previous op-ed calling his audition “bizarre,” Romney admitted he had been “very critical” of Trump during the campaign. Very critical, indeed.

“But now he has been elected president and accordingly, if I could have helped shape foreign policy to protect the country I love, I would have been more than willing to do so,” the former Massachusetts governor wrote.

Trump instead appointed ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson last Tuesday to be the country’s top diplomat.

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Amid some criticism, Romney also set the record straight: It was Trump who “reached out” to him for the secretary of state job, not the other way around.

“I was more than a little surprised that the president-elect reached out to me to potentially serve as secretary of state of the United States,” he wrote. “I see it as a welcome sign that he will be open to alternative views and even to critics.”

On Wednesday, Mitt Romney’s niece, Ronna Romney McDaniel, was announced as Trump’s pick as the next Republican National Committee chair.

According to CNN, Trump and several top advisors wanted Romney to apologize before potentially offering him the secretary of state position, but Romney refused. Instead, he offered “forward-looking praise for Trump.” There was more of that in his op-ed Saturday.

“I earnestly hope that he will be successful in fostering greater prosperity and peace,” Romney wrote. “I believe all Americans can join in that wish.”

Read Romney’s full op-ed below:

My political journey was surely not so bizarre as the 2016 campaign. That said, let me offer this personal perspective. I was indeed very critical of Donald Trump during his campaign. But now he has been elected president and accordingly, if I could have helped shape foreign policy to protect the country I love, I would have been more than willing to do so.

I was more than a little surprised that the president-elect reached out to me to potentially serve as secretary of state of the United States. I see it as a welcome sign that he will be open to alternative views and even to critics. As the country’s next president, I earnestly hope that he will be successful in fostering greater prosperity and peace. I believe all Americans can join in that wish.

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