Romney rejecting donors’ calls for him to primary Trump, but he’s planning to rally Senate Republicans to vote against Trump in impeachment trial. My latest:https://t.co/ps0SCpY8CC
— Gabriel Sherman (@gabrielsherman) October 8, 2019
This is physically painful for me — I’m grinding my teeth right now — but if he can actually bring himself to step up and lead a GOP challenge against the Oval Office Occupant, then props to Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor & current Utah Senator:
… According to sources, donors have in recent days called the Utah senator and encouraged him to run against Trump in the primary. “There is a half-billion dollars on the sidelines from guys who are fed up with Trump,” a GOP donor told me. Their hopes were raised when Romney attacked Trump on Friday, tweeting: “By all appearances, the President’s brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is wrong and appalling.” Former White House communications director turned Trump antagonist Anthony Scaramucci tweeted a poll showing Romney beating Trump 55% to 37% in a hypothetical primary. Trump fired back on Saturday. “Mitt Romney never knew how to win,” Trump tweeted. “He is a pompous ‘ass’ who has been fighting me from the beginning, except when he begged me for my endorsement for his Senate run (I gave it to him), and when he begged me to be Secretary of State (I didn’t give it to him). He is so bad for R’s!”
According to people close to Romney, he’s firmly decided against primarying Trump, an enterprise he believes to be a sure loser given Trump’s enduring GOP support. Romney has also told people that, as an unsuccessful two-time presidential candidate, he’s the wrong person to take on Trump. Instead, a Romney adviser told me, Romney believes he has more potential power as a senator who will decide Trump’s fate in an impeachment trial. “He could have tremendous influence in the impeachment process as the lone voice of conscience in the Republican caucus,” the adviser said. In recent days, Romney has been reaching out privately to key players in the Republican resistance, according to a person briefed on the conversations. “Romney is the one guy who could bring along Susan Collins, Cory Gardner, Ben Sasse. Romney is the pressure point in the impeachment process. That’s why the things he’s saying are freaking Republicans out.” (Romney, through a spokesperson, declined to comment.)
GOP elected officials and donors are privately war-gaming what an endgame for Trump would look like. “It’s clear the House is going to impeach,” the prominent Republican told me. Making matters worse for Trump, a policy wedge has opened up between Trump and the Republican Senate at a moment when he needs its support most. Trump’s surprise decision to pull back American troops in Syria and allow Turkey to take on our Kurdish allies has enraged Trump’s closest GOP allies, including Lindsey Graham. “The Syria decision is a much bigger deal,” another former West Wing official said. “No one on the inside can hold Trump accountable. The Senate Republicans are the only check on power right now.”
Mitt Romney did not ask Trump for an endorsement in his Senate run, per two people with knowledge of the situation. https://t.co/7XPvbXFE6z
— McKay Coppins (@mckaycoppins) October 5, 2019
What say the political touts? Well, Chris ‘Mad Bitcher’ Cillizza is visibly excited by the possibilities for media-worthy strife (as of course he would be). And the Boston Globe reports that some name-brand Never-Trumpers are clapping for Romney already. Then there’s the Never-Trumpist house organ, The Bulwark:
… [W]hat if—hear me out—Mitt Romney is the only person in America who is capable of saving the Republican party from itself, and in the process, saving the world from the current occupant of the Oval Office?
Lest we forget, Romney is a former Bain Capital man, and if there is one thing private equity knows, it’s how to read the numbers—and the writing on the wall…
The opportunity afforded to Romney by Trump here is enormous. The first Republican officeholder of consequence (sorry, Justin Amash) who backs Trump’s impeachment and removal will have a chance to become one of the most pivotal figures in American history. Romney could lead some of his Senate colleagues to join him in calling for removal. For other senators, he could provide much-needed cover…
And beyond the ways he can lead his fellow officeholders, Mitt Romney can lead the country. Regardless of his political views and his reputation among conservatives for fecklessness, millions of Republican voters—and millions of people outside the Republican party—think of Mitt Romney as accomplished, fair-minded, reasonable, and honest. He is considered a man of integrity. Some people might even call him wise. (Remember, it was Romney who was widely mocked for describing Russia as America’s most significant geopolitical adversary way back in 2012.) It might be going too far to call Mitt Romney a unifying figure, but he is certainly a less divisive leader at the national level than nearly anyone else at the highest ranks of either party…
Yes, that vast pile of superlatives doesn’t smell great to me, either, but I’m not a professional vulture capitalist; perhaps the opportunity to strip the dying carcass of the Republican party really *will* prove irresistible to a businessman of Romney’s ilk!
Another bit of useful context for today (from my story in January): "According to polling data published recently by the Associated Press, 64 percent of voters in [Utah] want to see Romney stand up to Trump in the Senate." https://t.co/5rOY1FDfPO
— McKay Coppins (@mckaycoppins) October 6, 2019
He needs to convince millions of Republicans in a primary, only 19 in a Senate trial. Utah is the only red state from which this can safely be done. https://t.co/IfqfzxX3hl
— Jim Antle (@jimantle) October 8, 2019
19 is still a lot, of course. But a majority for even a failed conviction could have a different 2020 impact than a majority for acquittal.
— Jim Antle (@jimantle) October 8, 2019
Trump got 45% in Utah. He can’t hurt Romney, who isn’t up again until the end of the next presidential term. This is an emotional outburst, he really is unhinged about this. But it’s also a warning to other Repubs who may be thinking of leaving the cult https://t.co/FeUtKNSMu5
— Dana Houle (@DanaHoule) October 5, 2019
Willard Romney & the RNC spent roughly a billion dollars trying to turn Willard Romney into a sympathetic Man of Principle™. They failed miserably. Trump did it in a few tweets. It might be the only genuinely impressive thing he's ever done. https://t.co/EW52uyOQag
— phillip anderson (@phillipanderson) October 5, 2019