NEW YORK (AP) — Laying new groundwork for his presidency, Donald Trump chose retired Gen. John Kelly Wednesday to head his Homeland Security Department and offered newly sympathetic words for the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
He also said he expects to name his secretary of state next week and former rival Mitt Romney still has a chance to win the post.
“Yes, he does,” Trump told NBC’s “Today.”
Romney, the 2012 presidential nominee, was blisteringly critical of Trump on foreign policy and other issues during the businessman’s campaign against Democrat Hillary Clinton. So Trump’s consideration of him – and Romney’s inclusion on the short list for one of the Cabinet’s most prestigious positions – has been a surprise.
Longtime Romney rival Jon Huntsman is also now in the running.
Kelly, Trump’s choice for Homeland Security, is a retired Marine general whose last command included oversight of the Guantanamo Bay detention center. The general retired this year after three years as head of U.S. Southern Command, which spanned some of the more fractious debate over the Obama administration’s ultimately failed pledge to close Guantanamo.
He served three tours in Iraq.
In still another development, the president-elect announced he has selected Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad as the new U.S. ambassador to China. Trump and Branstad are expected to appear together in Iowa on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Trump was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year, a choice the magazine’s managing editor said was “straightforward” given that Trump had upended politics-as-usual during the course of his extraordinary race for the White House.
In an interview with Time, Trump said he will “work something out” to help immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children and granted work visas by President Barack Obama.
Trump’s tough comments on immigrants during the campaign have led to fears among immigrant advocates that he will end Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Hundreds of thousands of young immigrants have gained work visas and temporary protection from deportation under the 2012 program.
Trump offered no details in the Time interview but talked much more sympathetically than he had during the campaign. He said “We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud.”
As for Romney, Trump denied he was stringing Romney along to make him pay for saying the former reality show star was unfit to serve.
“No, it’s not about revenge. It’s about what’s good for the country, and I’m able to put this stuff behind us – and I hit him very hard also,” Trump said in the telephone interview on NBC.
Those close to the selection process have said that Trump has begun moving away from both Romney and another former front-runner for the post, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker and former CIA Director David Petraeus had also been previously identified by transition aides as part of the final four.
In the wide-ranging NBC interview, Trump said he picked a fight with Boeing this week over the cost of new presidential planes because “we’re going to get the prices down, and if we don’t get the prices down we’re not going to order ’em.” He said Boeing would benefit from his administration’s tax cuts and reductions in regulations.
The federal government has agreed that Boeing will build two new planes, which would go into service around 2024. That means Trump might never fly on the aircraft, which carry U.S. presidents around the globe.
Trump also confirmed that he had sold stocks back in June, but neither he nor his aides have provided any evidence of the sale.
The night before, Trump told supporters in Fayetteville, North Carolina, that he intends to be a president “for all Americans.”
The his victory tour, which is meant to salute supporters in the states that helped propel him to the White House, will continue Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa. He’ll also meet with some of the victims of last week’s car-and-knife attack at Ohio State University.
Authorities have said university student Abdul Razak Ali Artan, 18, stabbed students before being fatally shot by police. He first rammed a campus crowd with his car before hopping out with a knife. They said Artan, a Somali immigrant, was inspired by Islamic State rhetoric. Trump has denounced the immigration policies that allowed Artan into the country. Trump’s visit to Columbus, Ohio was revealed by a person familiar with the plans but not authorized to discuss them before they are announced.