Political expediency likely forced President Trump to endorse the former presidential two-time loser for the Senate from Utah. But it was more than three days between Mitt Romney’s slick video announcement that he would run for Utah Senator Orrin Hatch’s seat and Trump’s decision to give Romney his endorsement. The president’s advisors no doubt reminded him that Romney is virtually guaranteed to win Hatch’s seat in November, with or without his endorsement, and that Trump nearly lost Utah in the presidential election in November 2016. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell weighed in on the matter as well, reminding Trump of the loss of Roy Moore in Alabama and how narrow the Republican majority is in the Senate, and urging him to support Romney.
Tweeted Trump on Monday night: “He will make a great Senator and worthy successor to Orrin Hatch, and has my full support and endorsement.” Romney tweeted back his thanks: “Thank you Mr. President for your support. I hope that over the course of the campaign I also earn the support and endorsements of the people of Utah.”
It’s too trite to remind readers what Mark Twain’s friend Charles Dudley Warner said about such temporary truces between politicians: “Politics makes strange bedfellows.” But in this case it fits. During the presidential primaries, Romney publicly lambasted Trump for not releasing his tax returns, stating that there might be a “bombshell” in them. Trump immediately fired back, saying that Romney was “one of the dumbest and worst candidates [running and losing in 2008 and then again in 2012] in the history of American politics.”
Romney shortly thereafter responded, declaring that Trump was “a phony, a fraud … he’s playing members of the American public for suckers," adding that “if we Republicans choose Donald Trump as our nominee, the prospects for a safe and prosperous future are greatly diminished.” And so on.
As the election was drawing closer, with Trump as the Republican Party’s nominee, Romney (who refused to say for whom he planned to vote) said, “I am dismayed at where we are now. I wish we had a better choice.”
So likely is Romney’s victory in November that Spencer Cox, Utah’s lieutenant governor, tweeted, “I would vote for Mitt if I ran against Mitt.” A retired UPS mechanic living in a suburb of Salt Lake City was candid about Romney’s victory in November: “Even if you were the devil, [Utah] Republicans would put you in [office].”
With significant name recognition and voters’ notoriously bad memories, Romney will win in a walk. The parallels between Romney and his father, George, are both illuminating and unnerving.
Both served as Mormon missionaries in Europe. Both pursued high-school sweethearts single-mindedly until they agreed to marry them several years later. Both had extremely successful careers in business, and both became known for turning around failing companies or organizations (the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City was rescued from financial oblivion by Mitt). Both presided over a stake — an administrative unit of the Latter Day Saints (Mormon) church. Both achieved their first elected position at age 55 as a Republican governor of a Democrat-leaning state. They bear similar physical attributes which some have said made them “look like a president.” Both staged their first presidential run in the year they turned 60. Neither of them protested publicly against LDS Church policy that did not allow blacks in its lay clergy until 1978.
And finally, and most importantly, both George and son Mitt have long been considered suspect by true conservatives in the Republican Party.
But Utah Republicans, outnumbering Democrats four to one, like most uninformed voters, will likely not know, or will have long since forgotten, that Mitt Romney is a carpetbagger, serving as governor for Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007, during which period he inflicted his version of ObamaCare onto that state’s citizens. They will have forgotten Romney’s hypocrisy when he later declared his intention as president to abolish ObamaCare as a sop to voters upset about its mandates forcing them to buy health insurance.
They will have long forgotten that Romney tore into Trump over the president’s lame and late support for Alabama’s Roy Moore when he was running for the Senate.
Most simply won’t care. Instead they will merely replace one RINO with another. Orrin Hatch is the longest-serving senator in history (seven terms) and has compiled a dismal voting record along the way. According to the Freedom Index published by The New American, out of each 100 votes he took, Hatch only voted to follow the Constitution 56 times. His voting record reveals him to be the nearly perfect example of a RINO (Republican In Name Only). What Romney brings to the Senate is this promise: “I’m with the president’s domestic policy agenda of low taxes, low regulation, smaller government [and] pushing back against the bureaucrats. I’m not always with the president on what he might say or do, and if that happens I’ll call ’em like I see ’em, the way I have in the past.”
In comparing Romney with Hatch, it seems a sentence from George Orwell's book Animal Farm put it well: “The creatures [the voters] outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”
Photo of Mitt Romney: Gage Skidmore via wikipedia