Romney calls lunch with Trump 'delightful'

Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyTennessee primary battle turns nasty for Republicans NRCC poll finds McBath ahead of Handel in Georgia Unemployment debate sparks GOP divisions MORE (R-Utah) said lunch with President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says his faith is 'bedrock foundation of my life' after Trump claim Coronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Ohio governor tests negative in second coronavirus test 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 BidenBiden says his faith is 'bedrock foundation of my life' after Trump claim Biden clarifies comments comparing African American and Latino communities Kanye West may have missed deadline to get on Wisconsin ballot by minutes: report MORE as "wrong and appalling.” 

ADVERTISEMENT

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 CollinsThe Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's visit to battleground Ohio overshadowed by coronavirus New polls show tight races for Graham, McConnell McConnell goes hands-off on coronavirus relief bill 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.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“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 PelosiCoronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame On The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Top Democrats say postmaster confirmed changes to mail service amid delays 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.