Mitt Romney’s awkward expression in a photograph taken during his latest meeting with Donald Trump has inspired of a wave of internet parodies, with people offering their own interpretation as to what it might mean.
The two former political foes had dinner together last night, joined by Mr Trump’s new Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, in their second meeting in over a week.
Mr Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who is in the running for Secretary of State, told reporters after the meal he was very “impressed” with Mr Trump and he thought “America’s best days are ahead of us”.
He said his discussions with Mr Trump, combined with the President-elect’s victory speech and the people he had selected for his transition team, gave him “increasing hope that President-elect Trump is the very man who can lead us to that better future”.
But some pointed out that Mr Romney’s expression in one of the photographs taken during the dinner, widely shared on social media, appeared less than thrilled to be sharing a table with a man he once called a “fraud” and a “con-man”.
“Donald Trump looks like a cat that caught a mouse and is now batting it around with its paws until it dies. Romney is the mouse,” wrote Taegan Goddard on Twitter.
“Mitt probably feels like his dog Seamus that was strapped to the top of the family station wagon,” he added.
“‘What’s for dinner, Donald?’ ‘Your dignity’,” wrote Marc Caputo, while Olivia Nuzzi said: “This is how I feel all the time.”
Haley Byrd chose to turn the photo into a short video clip, which zooms in on Mr Romney’s face as the opening to Simon & Garfunkel’s Sound of Silence plays, with the lyric “hello darkness my old friend”.
Some had a more puerile take on the situation, with Dave Rubin tweeting: “In which Trump farted and made Romney sit there as it enveloped him”.
Mr Romney, who was the Republican presidential nominee in 2012 and lost to Barack Obama, was a fierce critic of Trump during the Republican presidential primary battle.
“If Trump had said four years ago the things he says today about the KKK, Muslims, Mexicans, disabled, I would NOT have accepted his endorsement,” he wrote on twitter in March.
After the meal, he stopped short of an outright apology but his intention to wipe the slate clean was clear as he made an impassioned statement in support of the President-elect to try to erase doubts about him among Trump's supporters and remain in contention for US secretary of state.
During the lengthy meal, the trio dined on garlic soup with frog legs, scallops, steak and lamb chop.
Since Mr Trump began to seriously consider Romney as a potential secretary of state, some on his 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.
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 Mr Romney was picked.
Mr Trump, however, has kept Mr Romney in contention for the secretary of state position, and a Republican source close to the transition effort told Reuters Mr Priebus has been pushing for Mr Romney behind the scenes.
The choice of Jean-Georges, a three-starred Michelin restaurant in Trump Tower overlooking Central Park popular with New York high society, was the clearest indication yet that Mr Trump may select Mr Romney as his chief diplomat.
Mr Trump's Secretary of State will be America's public face to the world who could face the delicate task of reassuring foreign allies alarmed by the president-elect's rhetoric on the campaign trail.
Other key posts yet to be announced are the secretaries of defence and treasury – for which US media reported Mr Trump was expected to name former Goldman Sachs banker Steven Mnuchin.
But the search for the right diplomat has proved contentious with some of Trump's inner circle horrified at the prospect of rewarding such a prominent critic with such a plum job.
Mr Romney's distrust of Russia – at odds with a President-elect who has spoken admiringly of Vladimir Putin – and the respect he generally commands have been touted as qualities by establishment Americans.
It remains unclear how influential the secretary of state would be on crafting foreign policy with Mr Trump loyalist and retired general Michael Flynn already nominated as national security adviser.
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