Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani pulled himself out of the running for the job of President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of state yesterday, as the CEO of Exxon Mobil emerged as a possible spoiler to ex-Bay State Gov. Mitt Romney.

Giuliani, who had been a loyal foot soldier in the Trump campaign army, put out a joint statement where he officially removed himself from contention.

“From the vantage point of the private sector, I look forward to helping the president-elect in any way he deems necessary and appropriate,” Giuliani said.

Fox News reported Giuliani could have been Secretary of Homeland Security, but turned it down.

Giuliani could have faced difficulties getting Senate confirmation for secretary of state. The decision to move beyond Giuliani could be a sign that Trump places a high price on a smooth confirmation process instead of spending political capital on a dogfight for the highest-profile Cabinet position.

“They want to get up and running and go and they don’t want a long-winded approval process for this,” said Republican strategist Chip Felkel. “That makes it easier for them to make a decision for Romney and/or (Tennessee U.S. Sen. Bob) Corker.”

Romney’s biggest liability appears to be the bad blood he had with Trump during the campaign, where he actively sought to find a replacement for the GOP nominee. His Trump-bashing infuriated the billionaire’s loyalists, many of whom cringe at the idea Romney would be rewarded for his disloyalty with such a prestigious post. Trump officials also worry Romney’s previous comments about the president-elect as a “fraud” and a “phony,” among other insults, could travel with him as he meets with world leaders, according to a Fox News report.

Initially, Romney and Trump seemed to hit it off when they first met after the election, then followed up with a dinner of frog legs and garlic soup weeks later. Since then, however, the secretary of state sweepstakes has pressed on with new players emerging each week, leaving Romney seemingly twisting in the wind.

“It’s a pretty long and painful mind meld for so long and so publicly,” said Republican strategist Patrick Griffin. “I’m not sure it does anybody any good, including the president-elect.”

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson had emerged as Trump’s top choice for secretary of state, citing two transition officials.

The paper reported Tillerson moved ahead of other candidates, including Romney, and was planning to meet with Trump over the weekend.

Trump has indicated he plans to formally announce his pick next week.

In Michigan last night, Trump announced that Dow Chemical Co. CEO Andrew Liveris will be head of the American Manufacturing Council — where he’ll lead the effort to lure factory jobs back to the U.S. Liveris, in turn, said Michigan-based Dow will build a research-and-development center in the state.


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