Utah Sen. Mitt Romney revealed Wednesday that he plans to vote in favor of removing Donald Trump from office, which will make him the first Senator in history to vote to remove a president from their own party. The 72-year-old politician previously received criticism from the GOP for being one of two of the party’s Senators to vote in favor of additional witnesses in the impeachment trial, and his recent announcement will likely spark more backlash.
Nevertheless, conservative commentator Ben Shapiro defended Romney’s decision, although he admitted he does not agree with it.
“Romney is a Senator elected by the people of his state; his independent judgment is as legitimate as that of anyone else,” he tweeted. “Even though Trump’s Ukraine behavior was thoroughly bad and stupid, Romney is wrong about impeachment. But that’s about it. He is not a traitor or a buffoon.”
Shapiro said that Romney’s decision would likely earn him praise from the media in the form of “Strange New Respect,” which appears to be a Shapiro-created term that refers to when someone receives support for doing something in the interests of the opposing political party.
“Otherwise, he’s an evil 1% who killed a woman of cancer, strapped a dog to the top of his car, wanted to re-enslave black Americans,” Shapiro added, referring to Democratic attacks on Romney’s character during his presidential bid against former President Barack Obama.
“Today, he’ll be portrayed as a man of courage,” Shapiro added. “Yesterday, he was portrayed as the height of cruelty and maliciousness”
ROMNEY: "POTUS delayed funds for an American ally at war with Russian invaders. POTUS's purpose was personal and political. Accordingly, POTUS is guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust. What he did was not perfect. No, it was a flagrant assault of our electoral rights." pic.twitter.com/Tr50DQAhUN
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 5, 2020
According to Shapiro, Romney has not changed — the media’s opinion has shifted because he aligns with them on impeachment.
The 36-year-old author noted that the same effect could be observed on the right. He pointed to John McCain, who he claims did not “become horrible” due to Trump’s dislike of him in the same way that Romney did not “become evil” because Trump “now despises him.”
Appearing to exemplify the hate Shapiro speaks of, conservative television commentator Eric Bolling attacked Romney not long after his announcement, calling him out by comparing him to McCain.
.@MittRomney = McCain2.0
— ERIC BOLLING ???????? (@ericbolling) February 5, 2020
Conversely, Romney’s statement earned him praise from Independent Justin Amash, who left the Republican Party after being the first and only member of the GOP to call for Trump’s impeachment in the wake of the Mueller report.
Thank you, @SenatorRomney, for upholding your oath to support and defend the Constitution. You will never regret putting your faith in God and doing right according to the law and your conscience.
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) February 5, 2020
Despite backlash from the right, Amash has thus far had more success fundraising for his re-election bid than his Democratic and Republican opponents, suggesting that bucking the party could work out in his favor.