Mitt Romney announced he is running for the U.S. Senate in Utah, the mainstream media has been unusually enthusiastic about a Republican candidate – especially one with the name recognition and fundraising prowess to be virtually assured victory.
But Romney is not like other Republicans. He’s built his political comeback on criticizing President Trump. And nothing makes the media happier than Republicans who are willing to criticize Trump on the record.
“Romney has re-emerged on the political scene as a powerful voice calling out the inflammatory statements and conduct of President Donald Trump,” CNN Politics wrote.
“Romney’s fiery rebukes of Trump’s crude comments on topics ranging from the character of Mexican immigrants to sexual harassment made him a hero of the #NeverTrump movement and a set of Democratic admirers. His criticism of Trump has been especially notable considering the president once considered him as a candidate for secretary of state, a courtship that many friends of Romney later viewed as a token gesture by Trump to generate publicity.”
Not explained is why Trump would need Romney, a failed presidential candidate whose brand of Republicanism was defeated as certainly as Hillary Clinton was on election night 2016, to “generate publicity.”
It’s not really a campaign against Trump, the Atlantic reported. It is more like offering an alternative.
“Rather than define himself as the Republican antidote to Trump, he will champion a brand of Republicanism that he believes could be the antidote to Trumpism,” wrote McKay Coppins. “Rather than barnstorm the state with withering condemnations of the president’s character as he did in 2016, when he denounced Trump as a ‘phony’ and a ‘fraud,’ he will seek to advance a proactive policy vision to contend with Trump-style nationalism.”
And what happens to be in that proactive policy vision? Romney will “seek to avoid direct conflict” with the president, Coppins reported. His campaign will be “Utah-centric,” it quotes an adviser as saying. It will seek to make “the case that Utah’s distinctive brand of conservatism could offer a better way forward for the GOP and the nation,” Coppins writes.
“’And on Utah’s Capitol Hill,’ he pointedly added, ‘people treat one another with respect.’”
In a story entitled “In a possible ‘Senator Romney,’ some GOPers see an elder statesman and potential Trump foil,” ABC News resurrected a dispute between Romney and Trump critical of Romney from early 2016 to make the point Romney would arrive in Washington as a declared foe of the president.
“Here’s what I know,” Romney is quoted as saying. “Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing members of the American public for suckers. He gets a free ride to the White House, and all we get is a lousy hat.”
“Mitt Romney is a mixed up man who doesn’t have a clue. No wonder he lost,” Trump tweeted back then.
The Washington Post repeated the campaign’s theme that even though it began talking about not being nasty in the capital, increasing immigration and offering a Utah – rather than Washington – perspective on conservatism but seemed to understand the weakness of the argument.
“A Friday speech in Provo, Utah, at a GOP fundraiser, is also scheduled. His remarks there will steer clear of Trump and focus on how Congress could learn from the conservative state, several people close to Romney said,” the Post’s Robert Costa reported.
“Romney’s careful Utah debut, planned for months by his family and longtime aides, cannot paper over the reality of his return to politics: Many Republicans nationally are desperate for him to be a champion for the party’s traditional beliefs and a counterbalance to the president on issues such as morality and Russian election interference.”