NEW YORK-- While members of the New York and political press corps clogged the sidewalk below, waiting for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to arrive at Trump Tower's 56th Street entrance in midtown Manhattan, Romney was already meeting privately with Donald Trump inside.
Romney's campaign -- which never publicly acknowledged a planned meeting with Trump -- stationed an aide at the 56th street entrance to Trump Tower, who first assured the assembled press corps that Romney was on his way, then continued to make small talk with reporters, and plead ignorance as to the candidate's arrival time, as the meeting went on upstairs.
As it approached 3:00 pm ET -- an hour after what Trump spokesman Michael Cohen had said was the meeting's scheduled start time -- the aide flagged down a cab, told the press corps that the meeting had ended, apologized, and left.
Trump, who briefly flirted with a presidential run earlier this year, has met with several GOP candidates in highly publicized affairs, including recently dining with Texas Gov. Rick Perry at Manhattan's Jean Georges restaurant. Herman Cain's campaign announced today that Cain would meet with Trump in New York on Oct. 3.
Cohen reiterated to NBC News this morning that the Romney campaign had requested today's meeting, and that all the details of how it would take place would be left up to the campaign.
The planned meeting between Romney and Trump drew fire from Democrats and at least one of Romney's GOP rivals. The DNC released a web video this morning attacking Trump and Romney for their positions on Medicare, Social Security and other issues. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman's campaign spokesman Tim Miller issued several tweets mocking the two men, and looking to tie Romney to some of Trump's more controversial positions, including Trump's crusade earlier this year to get President Obama to prove his American citizenship.
Asked if Romney wanted to avoid being seen with Trump, campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul replied that the candidate had no open press events today, only private meetings.
Trump released this statement about the meeting: "Both Gov. Romney and I very much enjoyed the meeting. Many things were discussed of national and international interest. We both look forward to future meetings."