Trump is expanding the search for his secretary of state

When it comes to his most prominent cabinet pick, Donald Trump is keeping his options open.

After narrowing the potential secretary of state picks down to four finalists, he now plans to expand the search and interview additional candidates, a senior adviser said on Sunday.

The president-elect does not want to rush the decision and will be meeting with more people this week, Kellyanne Conway told reporters in Trump Tower.

“It is true that he's broadened the search, and the secretary of state is an incredibly important position for any president to fill,” she said. “He's very fortunate to have interest among serious men and, he continues to talk to different people.”

The original shortlist included 2012 Republican presidential candidate and former Massachussetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who was one of Trump’s most vocal Republican critics during the campaign. After a high-profile dinner in a New York restaurant with the president-elect earlier this week, Romney said he was “very impressed” with Trump and his transition efforts.

Trump’s transition team has been split over who to nominate for the top cabinet post. On Nov. 30, Trump spokesman Jason Miller told reporters that the field had been narrowed down to four names, and suggested Romney and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani were the two frontrunners. Sen. Bob Corker, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and former CIA director Gen. David Petraeus also met with Trump.

“Who knows how many finalists there will be,” Conway said on Sunday. “It's a big decision and nobody should rush through it.”

Asked what had changed in the last week to lead Trump to widen his options, she said the interest from qualified people had been overwhelming.

“There are a number of people that we may not have thought wanted to leave their very lucrative private industry positions to go and serve the government and they are coming forth now and expressing interest and it's exciting, frankly, to at least get their counsel,” she said.

Former Utah Gov. John Huntsman, who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, is reportedly one of the new additions to the list. Huntsman, who endorsed Trump in May, served as President Barack Obama’s first ambassador to China and speaks Mandarin.

On NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, vice president-elect Mike Pence also named former ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton as a contender for the position.

Vera Bergengruen: 202-383-6036, @verambergen