Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyTrump steps up GOP charm offensive as impeachment looms Romney calls lunch with Trump ‘delightful’ Trump lunches with two of his biggest Senate GOP critics MORE (R-Utah) said lunch with President TrumpDonald John TrumpWatergate prosecutor says that Sondland testimony was ‘tipping point’ for Trump In private moment with Trump, Justice Kennedy pushed for Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination: book Obama: ‘Everybody needs to chill out’ about differences between 2020 candidates MORE was “delightful” despite a history of clashing with the president that stretches back to the 2016 presidential primary.
Romney and Trump shook hands at the White House lunch Thursday, and Romney said there didn’t appear to be any signs of lingering tension between the two of them, even though Trump slammed the senator last month as a “pompous ass.”
Romney, for his part, blasted Trump last month for calling on China and Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenKamala Harris receives new Iowa endorsements after debate performance Watergate prosecutor says that Sondland testimony was ‘tipping point’ for Trump Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Deal on defense bill proves elusive | Hill, Holmes offer damaging testimony | Trump vows to block Navy from ousting officer from SEALs MORE as “wrong and appalling.”
But the two antagonists were on their best behavior at the lunch meeting, which several other Republican senators also attended, including another prominent critic, Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTrump steps up GOP charm offensive as impeachment looms Romney calls lunch with Trump ‘delightful’ Trump lunches with two of his biggest Senate GOP critics MORE (Maine).
Trump even invited Romney to play a role in an effort to curb vaping products, which Trump has elevated as one of his priorities.
“It was a very delightful meeting with the president and vice president and senior members of his staff and several Republican senators. We were able to talk about vaping and considered various options, and each of us spoke about our thoughts in that regard,” Romney told reporters after the meeting.
Asked if he or the president acknowledged any of the past tension in their relationship, Romney simply said, “nope” and added, “yes, of course” when asked if he shook Trump’s hand.
“We’re friendly and cordial,” he said.
Romney shrugged off Trump tweeting last month that “he is a pompous ‘ass’ who has been fighting me from the beginning.”
“That’s as accurate as it is irrelevant,” Romney joked to reporters who asked him about that pointed comment from Trump.
Thursday’s lunchtime discussion at the White House was mainly focused on legislation to lower prescription drug costs. Trump also discussed with senators the prospect of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade deal.
“We did have a discussion about USMCA. He obviously has a desire to get that passed,” Romney confirmed, adding that Trump offered no comment about the prospects of an imminent deal with Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Deal on defense bill proves elusive | Hill, Holmes offer damaging testimony | Trump vows to block Navy from ousting officer from SEALs On The Money: Trump signs short-term spending bill to avoid shutdown | Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 | California high court strikes down law targeting Trump tax returns Wasserman Schultz makes bid for House Appropriations Committee gavel MORE (D-Calif.) to move the stalled trade pact.
Trump opened the meeting with a brief discussion about the House impeachment proceedings but GOP senators who were in the room said it wasn’t anything he hasn’t already said in public.
The president and senators also discussed recent Republican losses in Kentucky and Louisiana, where Republicans lost gubernatorial races.
Trump courteously listened to Romney’s ideas on curbing vaping products, an issue that has become prominent since the vaping-related deaths of nearly 50 people and illnesses affecting more than 2,000 people this year.
“I expressed my point of view, which is that I thought that there is a great deal of support for removing, if you will, the candy flavors. And while there may not be a lot of support for removing the menthol flavor, then I hope we can make progress on those places where there is general support,” Romney said.
The lawmaker from Utah told Trump that he hoped that the Food and Drug Administration would take action to regulate vaping products while Congress considers legislation.
Trump then invited Romney and other senators to provide information to his advisers on the issue.