Trump’s Parade of Cabinet Prospects Looks Like His Old Enemies List


President-elect Donald J. Trump spared no criticism of his political enemies during the Republican primary campaign. But many of his targets have become the objects of his attention as he considers them for cabinet positions.

Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee and one of the most vocal members of the “Never Trump” movement, is scheduled to meet this weekend with Mr. Trump.

He may not want to repeat what he said in March: “Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University.”

Mr. Romney also called Mr. Trump “a con man, a fake,” and poked fun at his “Make America Great Again” baseball caps by saying Mr. Trump was “playing the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House, and all we get is a lousy hat.”

Of course, many Republicans who assailed Mr. Trump in the primaries have changed their tune. (See: Senator Ted Cruz.) But Mr. Romney’s criticism was particularly brutal. And Mr. Trump was quick to respond.

“Failed candidate Mitt Romney, who ran one of the worst races in presidential history, is working with the establishment to bury a big ‘R’ win!” Mr. Trump said on Twitter in response to Mr. Romney’s critique.

The two men spoke last week after a preliminary call from Mr. Romney to a Trump aide on election night. But the notion of Mr. Romney in a Trump cabinet may be nothing more than an attempt at misdirection: getting reporters confused about who the real candidates are to be the nation’s top diplomat.

Or it could be a way of sending an unsettling signal to Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, who appears to very much want that secretary of state job.

Add another name to the list for potential secretary of defense: Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, a 39-year-old veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr. Cotton could be called a Trumpian conservative — eager to spend billions of dollars more on the military, virulently opposed to the Iranian nuclear deal and determined to bomb the something out of the Islamic State.

But he also wove a careful line in an interview on Thursday, warning about President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

Mr. Putin — who has received nothing but praise from the president-elect — “has to have a new set of boundaries,” Mr. Cotton said in a half-hour conversation at a conference sponsored by Defense One, a national security news website that is read widely in the military world. The senator added that the best way to deter Russia was “to be ironclad in our support of our allies,” and he diplomatically declined to say whether Mr. Trump’s threat to pull out of NATO unless its member states contributed more to their common defense constituted such support.

Mr. Cotton is more than a generation younger than others being considered for the job, including another Republican senator, Jeff Sessions of Alabama. Mr. Cotton is still deeply attached to his former units in Iraq and Afghanistan, and is pressing for a $26 billion supplemental allocation to the Pentagon, which he hopes the Senate will vote on early next year.

Congress has essentially left town until after Thanksgiving, with lawmakers taking the fallout from the election home with them as something else to chew over.

Is Russia friend or foe? End the filibuster or preserve Senate tradition? How are we going to pay for the big public works bill? Is it repeal and replace, or replace and repeal? Why haven’t I been mentioned for the Trump cabinet?

Democrats will have something else to keep them busy over the holiday break: a leadership election. Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio announced Thursday that he would challenge Representative Nancy Pelosi of California as the party’s leader in the House after an election that has left Democrats dispirited about their future.

Mr. Ryan said that Democrats shouldn’t let an opportunity for change pass without a fight, and it is a fight he will get from the tenacious Ms. Pelosi, who has already announced that she has secured the support of two-thirds of House Democrats.

Perhaps the real question is what would it be like to have a Ryan (Paul D.) as Republican speaker and a Ryan (Tim) as Democratic leader?

After spending all of Thursday at Trump Tower, the president-elect plans to venture out on Friday to Bedminster, N.J., where he has a country club with two golf courses.

Mr. Trump will hold transition meetings at the club, Trump National, for two days. Bedminster, a little more than an hour drive from Manhattan, will be a change of scenery for Mr. Trump, who has left New York only once since being elected (to meet with President Obama in the White House two days after).

Mr. Trump began building the Bedminster courses in 2002, and the club is scheduled to host the 2017 United States Women’s Open and the 2022 P.G.A. Championship.

“When I saw this beautiful piece of property in Bedminster, New Jersey, I knew that it deserved only the best,” Mr. Trump says on the club’s website.