Romney, potential US secretary of state, hails Trump after dinner

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NEW YORK, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Republican Mitt Romney made an impassioned statement in support of President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday to try to erase doubts about him among Trump's supporters and remain in contention for U.S. secretary of state.

Romney, a fierce critic of Trump during the Republican presidential primary battle, stopped short of an outright apology but his intention to wipe the slate clean was clear.

The former Massachusetts governor, who was the Republican presidential nominee in 2012 and lost, praised Trump for a "message of inclusion and bringing people together" since his Nov. 8 victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

PHOTOS: Check out Trump and Romney's dinner

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Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks after a dinner meeting with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump at Jean-Georges inside of the Trump International Hotel & Tower in New York, U.S., November 29, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 29: (L to R) President-elect Donald Trump and Mitt Romney dine at Jean Georges restaurant, November 29, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 29: (L to R) President-elect Donald Trump and Mitt Romney dine at Jean Georges restaurant, November 29, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
US President-elect Donald Trump (L) dines with Mitt Romney (R) at Jean-Georges restaurant at Trump International Hotel and Tower, Tuesday, November 29, 2016 in New York. Romney, a favorite among establishment Republicans for being named Secretary of State, met with Trump for their second face-to-face meeting in 10 days. / AFP / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump sits at a table for dinner with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R) and his choice for White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus (L) at Jean-Georges at the Trump International Hotel & Tower in New York, U.S., November 29, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump sits at a table for dinner with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R) and his choice for White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus (L) at Jean-Georges at the Trump International Hotel & Tower in New York, U.S., November 29, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump sits at a table for dinner with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R) and his choice for White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus (L) at Jean-Georges at the Trump International Hotel & Tower in New York, U.S., November 29, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump sits at a table for dinner with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R) at Jean-Georges inside of the Trump International Hotel & Tower in New York, U.S., November 29, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks after a dinner meeting with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump at Jean-Georges inside of the Trump International Hotel & Tower in New York, U.S., November 29, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
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Noting the appointments Trump has made to fill key cabinet positions for his administration and his desire for greater unity among Americans, Romney said that "all of those things combined give me increasing hope that President-elect Trump is the very man who can lead us" to a better future.

Romney made his remarks after a lengthy meal with Trump and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus at a French restaurant at a Trump hotel in Manhattan. They dined on garlic soup with frog legs, scallops, steak and lamb chop.

RELATED: Trump vs. Romney on the issues

Since Trump began to seriously consider Romney as a potential secretary of state, some on Trump's team have voiced doubts about bringing in a former critic and rallied around their preferred candidate, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a long-time Trump friend and loyalist.

RELATED: See who Trump has already picked for his administration

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Trump's official picks for cabinet and administration positions
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Trump's official picks for cabinet and administration positions

Counselor to the President: Kellyanne Conway

REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Veterans Affairs Secretary: David Shulkin

(Photo credit DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)

Transportation secretary: Elaine Chao

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Energy secretary: Rick Perry

(Photo credit KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)

Secretary of State: Rex Tillerson

 REUTERS/Daniel Kramer

Secretary of Defense: Retired Marine General James Mattis

(Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Chief of staff: Reince Priebus

(JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Chief strategist: Steve Bannon

(EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Attorney General: Senator Jeff Sessions

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Director of the CIA: Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

White House national security adviser: Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Deputy national security adviser: K.T. McFarland

(Photo by Michael Schwartz/Getty Images)

White House counsel: Donald McGahn

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Ambassador to the United Nations: South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley

(Photo by Astrid Riecken For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Education secretary: Betsy DeVos

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Commerce secretary: Wilbur Ross

(Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Homeland security secretary: General John Kelly

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Housing and urban development secretary: Ben Carson

(Photo credit NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Labor secretary: Andrew Puzder

(Photo by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Administrator of Environmental Protection Agency: Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Health and human services secretary: Tom Price

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Department of Homeland Security: Retired General John Kelly

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Secretary of agriculture: Sonny Perdue

(BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
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Leading this effort in an unusually public way has been senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, who told a round of television interviews on Sunday that Trump supporters would feel "betrayed" if Romney was picked.

Trump, however, has kept Romney in contention for the secretary of state position, and a Republican source close to the transition effort said Priebus has been pushing for Romney behind the scenes.

"I had a wonderful evening with President-elect Trump," Romney said in remarks to reporters after the dinner. "We had another discussion about affairs throughout the world and these discussions I've had with him have been enlightening, and interesting, and engaging. I've enjoyed them very, very much."

Trump is also considering U.S. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

RELATED: See Trump and Romney's previous meeting

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Romney and Trump meeting
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Romney and Trump meeting
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney arrives to meet with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence at the main clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., November 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney arrives to meet with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence at the main clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., November 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence (R) greet former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (L) as he arrives for their meeting at the the main clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., November 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
BEDMINSTER TOWNSHIP, NJ - NOVEMBER 19: President-elect Donald Trump (C) and vice president-elect Mike Pence (R) welcome Mitt Romney (L) to the clubhouse at Trump International Golf Club, November 19, 2016 in Bedminster Township, New Jersey. Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
US President-elect Donald Trump welcomes Mitt Romney as he arrives for a day of meetings at the clubhouse of Trump National Golf Club November 19, 2016 in Bedminster, New Jersey. / AFP / Don EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
US President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence welcome Mitt Romney as he arrives for a day of meetings at the clubhouse of Trump National Golf Club November 19, 2016 in Bedminster, New Jersey. / AFP / Don EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
BEDMINSTER TOWNSHIP, NJ - NOVEMBER 19: President-elect Donald Trump (L) and vice president-elect Mike Pence (R) welcome Mitt Romney (C) to the clubhouse at Trump International Golf Club, November 19, 2016 in Bedminster Township, New Jersey. Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
US President-elect Donald Trump (L) and Vice President-elect Mike Pence (R) welcome Mitt Romney as he arrives for a day of meetings at the clubhouse of Trump National Golf Club November 19, 2016 in Bedminster, New Jersey. / AFP / Don EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
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Corker met Trump at Trump Tower earlier on Tuesday and told reporters afterward that Trump "needs to choose someone that he's very comfortable with and he knows there's going be no daylight between him and them."

"The world needs to know that the secretary of state is someone who speaks fully for the president and again, that's a decision he's going to have to make," Corker said.

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