President Trump has had something of a complicated relationship over the years with Mitt Romney, his predecessor as Republican presidential nominee.
Trump considered running for the GOP nomination that ultimately went to Romney in 2012 but he didn’t run. Trump endorsed Romney during the Republican primaries in February of 2012, appearing at the Trump hotel in Las Vegas in an uncomfortable seven-minute appearance, the New York Times reported at the time. Romney went on to win the GOP nomination but lost in the general election to Barack Obama.
When Trump did run for president in 2016, Romney was one of his harshest critics, emerging as a leader of the “Never Trump” faction, giving speeches in opposition of Trump’s run and never endorsing Trump for president. But after Trump was elected president, he infamously met with Romney in a restaurant to discuss making him Secretary of State, although Romney ultimately wasn’t chosen. The former Massachusetts governor has continued to occasionally criticize Trump, although when he ran successfully for the U.S. Senate from Utah last year, Trump endorsed his candidacy.
Now, with Romney preparing to take the Senate seat, he has written an opinion piece in the Washington Post, one critical of the president.
“On balance, his conduct over the past two years, particularly his actions this month, is evidence that the president has not risen to the mantle of the office,” Romney writes in the piece. He refers specifically to the departures of Defense Secretary James Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, and the president’s general behavior. Romney, however, does have praise for Trump’s tax cuts, criminal justice reform, and China policy.
Mitt Romney, who will be sworn into the Senate this week, writes an op-ed for The Post:— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) January 2, 2019
Trump’s character falls short https://t.co/9HFGNXuKxA
“I will act as I would with any president, in or out of my party: I will support policies that I believe are in the best interest of the country and my state, and oppose those that are not,” Romney says of his upcoming Senate term.
“I do not intend to comment on every tweet or fault. But I will speak out against significant statements or actions that are divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest or destructive to democratic institutions.”
“With the nation so divided, resentful and angry, presidential leadership in qualities of character is indispensable. And it is in this province where the incumbent’s shortfall has been most glaring,” Romney writes.
While both are GOP politicians who are wealthy, it’s fair to say that Romney and Trump are very different men and very different Republicans. Romney has been married to the same woman for decades, is a devout Mormon, and made his money in ways that didn’t put him before the public often prior to his running for office.
It seems like that once Romney arrives in the Senate, he’ll take on a role similar to those of departed Senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker: He’ll be somewhat critical of the president of his own party, while likely voting with him the majority of the time.