Trump and Romney
Trump and RomneyReuters

President-elect Donald Trump is leaning toward asking 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to be his secretary of state, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

Trump is also likely to name retired Marine Gen. James Mattis to serve as secretary of defense in his administration, while South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is the leading candidate to be the next ambassador to the United Nations, sources familiar with the deliberations told the newspaper.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence confirmed on Sunday that Romney is in the running for secretary of state, a day after Trump and Romney met.

According to The Wall Street Journal, delaying Trump’s decision about secretary of state is an internal tug of war between supporters of Romney, and those urging the selection of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

A third group is pressing the president-elect to keep searching for candidates.

Trump views Romney as the prototypical choice to be the nation’s top diplomat, and a group of advisers inside the transition are pushing him to select him, the report said.

That Romney is being considered by Trump is somewhat surprising given past tensions between the two men.

During the Republican primaries, Romney verbally lashed out at Trump, describing him as “a phony, a fraud” whose “promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University.”

Romney further accused Trump of threatening America’s future and “playing the American public for suckers.”

Trump, for his part, denounced Romney as a "choke artist" for losing the 2012 election to President Barack Obama.

Meanwhile, another faction is still pushing for Giuliani, who was one of Trump’s earliest supporters and has openly campaigned for the job.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, speaking to reporters after meeting with Trump on Monday, said “there are huge advantages to Rudy Giuliani frankly, I think that, if you want someone who is going to go out and be a very tough negotiator for America and represent American interest in the way that Trump campaigned, I think that probably Rudy is a better pick and has the right temperament.”

According to the sources, the clearest consensus inside the transition team is for Gen. Mattis, a former war commander who has long voiced concerns about the security threat posed by Iran.

“He is the real deal,” Trump told reporters about Mattis after a meeting between the two on Saturday. “He is just a brilliant, wonderful man. What a career.”