Donald Trump’s long-time but informal adviser Roger Stone says the Secretary of State job was dangled in front of Mitt Romney in order to “torture” him for previously opposing the president-elect.
During a Sunday appearance on InfoWars with Alex Jones, a conspiratorial media outlet that has become a mouthpiece of the next president, Stone called Romney a “choker” and said that Trump was simply toying with him.
“Donald Trump was interviewing Mitt Romney for Secretary of State in order to torture him,” Stone claimed on the program. “To toy with him. And given the history, that’s completely understandable. Mitt Romney crossed a line. He didn’t just oppose Trump, which is his democratic right, he called him a phony and a fraud. And a con man. And that’s not the kind of man you want as Secretary of State.”
Stone’s involvement with the current transition efforts is unclear as he is not formally advising Trump. But the two men have kept a close relationship for years and Stone claims that he was at Trump Tower last week. The transition team did not respond to a request for confirmation about his presence from The Daily Beast.
In recent days, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson has emerged as the new frontrunner for the position as the nation’s top diplomat, outpacing Romney, with whom Trump had dinner and said he looked right out of “central casting” for the gig. Trump’s final decision remains a mystery and while transition sources indicate that Tillerson is the favorite at this stage, the country will only truly know when the president-elect issues the words from his own mouth or Twitter account.
Stone, a longtime Trump acolyte with a book on the way about the presidential race, used Trump’s own language to bash Romney which is either a sign that he knows something beyond what has been reported about the jostling for the position or he’s simply airing out grievances in the same manner that former campaign manager Kellyanne Conway did. She blasted Romney in a series of television interviews with the blessing of Trump himself.
“Well, you know Trump correctly said he was a choker,” Stone said in the interview, “and at the key moment in the campaign against Barack Obama he choked. Donald Trump is not a choker, in fact, he’s a scratch golfer. So in this particular case, Trump did what Romney couldn’t.”
And funnily enough, Trump was able to convince Romney to say this exact same thing.
“By the way, it’s not easy winning,” Romney said in the ultimate subservient moment to the ruler-in-waiting. “I know that myself. He did something I tried to do and was unsuccessful in. He won the general election and he continues with a message of inclusion and bringing people together and his vision is something which obviously connected with the American people in a very powerful way.”
In a sequence of unabashed vindictiveness, Stone took particular pleasure in the fact that Trump won Ohio easily, a state which Romney lost to President Obama in 2012.
“It’s always kind of tickled me, Romney struggled to carry Ohio and they poured millions and millions,” the former Nixon dirty trickster declared. “Trump carried Ohio easily, despite the opposition of the Kasich Republican machine. It was never in doubt. He pulled out to a lead in Ohio and he never lost it. It was the one state we had in the bank.”
For his part, Stone is at least trying to influence the selection process by vocally supporting and opposing prospective cabinet picks through a medium preferred by Trump: media interview
Stone did have some things to say about the potential options for press secretary, a role yet to be filled which Conway has reportedly declined. He wants to ensure that Sean Spicer, spokesman for the Republican National Committee who has been working closely with the transition team, does not get the job.
“It is my understanding that he is under consideration,” Stone told The Daily Beast. “I would prefer someone who was actually for Donald Trump:”
“I would prefer Monica Crowley, Laura Ingram [sic], Gordon Hensley or Jason Miller,” he added. For what it’s worth, these names have been floated in the press as potential options.
It all depends on who has Trump’s ear last.