Utah Sen. Mitt Romney is retiring after the end of his term, and it's BOTH SIDES, you guys.
Sen. Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012 and the only member of his party to twice vote to convict former president Donald Trump in politically charged impeachment trials, announced Wednesday that he will not seek a second term in the Senate representing Utah, saying in an interview that it is time for a new generation to “step up” and “shape the world they’re going to live in.”
Romney, 76, said his decision not to run again was heavily influenced by his belief that a second term, which would take him into his 80s, probably would be less productive and less satisfying than the current term has been. He blamed that both on the disarray he sees among House Republicans and on his own lack of confidence in the leadership of President Biden and Trump.
“It’s very difficult for the House to operate, from what I can tell,” he said in a lengthy telephone interview previewing his formal announcement, “and two, and perhaps more importantly, we’re probably going to have either Trump or Biden as our next president. And Biden is unable to lead on important matters and Trump is unwilling to lead on important matters.”
Romney, elected to the Senate in 2018 with 63 percent of the vote, said he will serve out the duration of his term, which ends in January 2025. His decision not to seek reelection next year is likely to mark the end of a political career that has been notable, especially in the Trump era, for independence and a willingness to stand up against the base of his party that has shifted dramatically in Trump’s direction in the decade since Romney was its standard-bearer.
From the time Trump first became a candidate until today, Romney has been among his most outspoken critics, and nothing about his departure is expected to change that. In the weeks before Trump’s 2017 inauguration, Romney publicly acquiesced, expressing hope for the president-elect’s leadership while he was under consideration to be secretary of state. But his turnabout was short-lived.
Romney was the only Republican to vote to convict Trump in the 2020 impeachment trial, which involved Trump’s efforts to persuade Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to dig up dirt on Biden ahead of the 2020 presidential campaign and withholding aid to that country. Romney was one of seven Republican senators to vote to convict in the second trial, which came weeks after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Both votes, but especially the first, cost Romney politically, at home in Utah and more broadly within a party that Trump has come to dominate. He acknowledged the damage he had sustained, but said, “If there were no cost to doing what’s right, there’d be no such thing as courage. … I think it’s fair to say that the support I get in Utah is because people respect someone who does what they believe is right, even if they disagree with me.”
Republicans have speculated that because of his opposition to Trump, Romney could face a difficult battle to win a second term if he decided to run again. But the senator said fear of losing had nothing to do with his decision. In fact, he said, he was confident that, had he decided to run again, he would prevail. He pointed to a recent poll in Utah that showed his approval rebounding to 56 percent, a sharp rise from the 40 percent recorded in May and numbers showing him well ahead of potential rivals.
The highest-achieving Mormon politician of his time, Romney twice sought the presidency and served as governor of Massachusetts before moving to Utah and being elected to the Senate. His father, George, was a governor of Michigan, ran unsuccessfully for president in 1968 and served as secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Richard M. Nixon.
And as just about every other Republican in my lifetime has done, is doing, and will do in the future, Romney's choice was do nothing to fix the problems their party created over that lifetime, and blame the Democrats for it while holding the blowtorch and kicking over the 55-gallon drum of flammable accelerant.
Romney had 20 years in government to do better, and at every opportunity he chose not to, and now he's choosing to bail out of the plane he's helped to crash again and again, failing his father's legacy whenever he could.
Most of all, wherever Romney did the right thing, like MassCare when he was Governor there two decades ago, he just disavowed it later.
What a failure of a career. Even when he won, he lost.