Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s vocal support for Romney comes after he successfully backed another anti-Trump Republican, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, in her re-election bid.
As politicians speculate on whether Sen. Mitt Romney will run for re-election, the top Senate Republican says he will support the junior senator from Utah, who is one of the most prominent critics of former President Donald Trump’s party.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told Politico in an interview that he was willing to back Romney against challengers within the party, as he did for other anti-Trump Republican incumbents in the midterm elections.
“He was a really important part of our conference,” McConnell told Politico. “People respect his intelligence, his assessment of the era we’re in. And I think his candidacy for re-election would be very important. It is important for the Republican Party and the country that he is back in power.”
Though he initially refused to recognize President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory and then congratulated him in an about-face the day after the electoral college vote in mid-December, McConnell has long been an opponent of Trump. On Tuesday, he failed to defend Trump after criminal references to the Jan. 6 riot in the US Capitol.
“The whole nation knows who is responsible for this day. Beyond that, I have no immediate observations,” McConnell said in a statement following the Jan. 6 criminal referrals.
A spokesman for Romney told The Salt Lake Tribune the senator had no further comment on McConnell’s remarks or whether he would throw his hat in the ring for 2024.
In an interview with Politico, Romney said there was “frankly no question in my mind” that he could win.
He continued, “I faced long odds: Getting the nomination in 2012 was a long road to becoming a Republican governor in one of America’s most liberal states, Massachusetts. … So I’m convinced that if I run, I’ll win. But that is a decision I will make.”
After Romney voted to impeach Trump and broke ranks with the Republican Party, Trump loyalists in Utah began using “Mitt Romney Republican” as a derogatory term to attack more moderate Republican politicians and candidates. That split among Utah Republicans sparked by the rise of Trump has hurt Romney’s standing in the party, said Quin Monson, a BYU political science professor whose company Y2 Analytics conducted polls for Romney’s campaign in 2018 and will likely do so again, when the senator is running.
But according to Monson, Romney has two things in his favor if he decides to run for a second term — Trump’s popularity is waning, he said, citing a letter signed by nearly 100 Republican-elect officials from Utah and the Florida governor , Ron DeSantis, urged him to challenge the former President; and there is still no clear, formidable opponent for the senator.
“Both[Trump and Romney]in a sense embodied the rift that exists within the party,” Monson said, “and that rift may be smoothed over time and with and with Donald Trump’s departure from the national scene, if that is so.” would have happened.”
Support from other notable Republicans who have opposed Trump, like McConnell, may not sway voters in Utah, but the vast resources at the Senate minority leader’s disposal can help shore up a campaign, Monson noted.
During the midterm election, a McConnell-aligned super-PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund, spent millions on ads supporting Sen. Lisa Murkowski of R-Alaska, who joined Romney as one of the few Republicans to vote for Trump to be convicted of inciting rebellion after his second impeachment trial in February 2021.
Murkowski, like Romney, faced backlash from Republicans in her home state after the vote. In November, she was re-elected to her fourth term in the Senate, beating a Trump-backed conservative challenger in Alaska’s ranking system.
Politico reported that Steve Daines, R-Montana, the incoming chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, also supports Romney’s re-election and plans to meet with Romney soon to discuss the possibility.
Romney is unlikely to gain the support of all Republicans if he runs. The senator declined to endorse fellow Utah senator Mike Lee over his friend Evan McMullin, who was running as the independent conservative challenger, despite Lee’s plea on national television to do so.
After his win, Lee used his alternate Twitter account @basedmikelee to do so Respond to a congratulatory tweet from Romney with a whiffwith the words “Thank you, @Mitt Romney. See you soon” and pin the nail polish emoji.
Lee remained neutral during the 2018 Republican primary for the Senate and said he would support anyone who achieves victory in the general election. Politico reported that if Romney runs again, he is expected to remain similarly neutral during the 2024 primary, according to a person familiar with Lee’s plans.
https://www.sltrib.com/news/politics/2022/12/21/should-mitt-romney-run/ Should Mitt Romney stand for re-election in 2024? The top Senate Republican believes so.