In a new Op-Ed for WashingtonExaminer, David M. Drucker argues that Senator Mitt Romney may be positioning himself for a White House run in 2024 by siding against Trump during the impeachment trial.
Mitt Romney is stoking suspicions that he is eyeing a third White House bid in 2024 after the Utah Republican broke with his party and insisted on witnesses at President Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate.
Along with centrist Susan Collins of Maine, Romney was one of just two Senate Republicans to join the Democrats in a failed vote to subpoena fresh testimony. The 2012 Republican presidential nominee might yet acquit Trump on two articles alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, but consistent criticism of Trump throughout impeachment, a GOP rarity, capped by support for witnesses has some Republicans convinced Romney is jockeying to reclaim the party.
“Mitt Romney is a bitter, jealous man who looks at President Trump and wishes he could be him. This is about Romney’s ego, nothing else,” said Jason Miller, a Republican strategist who advised Trump during the 2016 campaign and co-hosts a podcast with Steve Bannon, the president’s former White House counselor.
A second Republican strategist neither affiliated with nor opposed to Trump agreed that Romney’s maneuvering during the four-month impeachment process was calculated. This veteran operative predicted the senator would be active after the November elections, trying to restore the internationalist, “Chamber of Commerce” Republicanism that dominated the GOP before the elevation of Trump, a populist and a nationalist.
“He is cynically betting on an electoral disaster in 2020,” this Republican said, requesting anonymity in order to speak candidly and preserve relationships with key establishment figures. “I think he believes he will be the only guy who will look like he was in the right on the road to hell.”
Prior to the 2016 election and since, Romney has periodically rebuked Trump. At first, this fueled speculation Romney might challenge the president in the 2020 GOP primary. Since impeachment, the senator’s pointed criticism of Trump’s dealings with Ukraine has led some Republicans to believe that he has plans to challenge for control of the party if the president is ousted or after he is termed out of office.
But Republican insiders connected to Romney said in interviews Friday that the senator’s critics are misinterpreting his intentions and misunderstanding what he hopes to accomplish with his recently revived political career.
Utah Republicans have mixed feelings about Trump, giving the senator more political latitude to criticize the president and oppose his agenda than almost any other GOP member of Congress. From the moment he launched his Senate campaign, Romney promised to praise and criticize Trump as warranted. Romney is simply keeping that promise, said Boyd Matheson, who advised Romney’s 2018 bid and is a former chief of staff to Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah.
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