Mitt Romney condemns ‘demagogue’ Trump as he announces retirement

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Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, a former presidential nominee and a rare relative moderate in the Republican party of Donald Trump, has said he will not run for a second term next year, depriving the party of one of its fiercest critics in Congress of the former US president and his political movement.

Related: Rightwing women’s group slammed for keynote address by ‘misogynist’ Trump

“It’s pretty clear that the party is inclined to a populist demagogue message,” he said in an interview with the Washington Post in which he announced his retirement.

Romney lost the 2012 presidential election to Barack Obama and entered Congress in 2018. Before that he was governor of Massachusetts between 2003 and 2007.

Amid increased scrutiny of the advanced age of many US politicians, Romney, 76, said it was time for a new generation to “step up [and] shape the world they’re going to live in”. He also said he did not think a second term that would end in his 80s could be as effective as his first.

That, Romney said, was in part down to a far-right dominated House Republican party which made it “difficult” for that chamber to “operate”, and in part down to a looming 2024 presidential election between the incumbent, Joe Biden, and his predecessor, Trump.

“Biden is unable to lead on important matters and Trump is unwilling to lead on important matters,” Romney said.

Trump faces 91 criminal charges, including 17 for election subversion and 40 over the retention of classified information, and numerous civil lawsuits – but still leads Republican polling in the 2024 nomination race by huge margins.

Romney opposed Trump’s nomination in 2016 and emerged as a rare Republican critic, despite a wobble after Trump won the White House, when Romney appeared to seek a cabinet appointment.

That did not materialise, and Romney eventually became the only Republican senator to vote to convict Trump in both his impeachment trials, for seeking political dirt in Ukraine and for inciting the January 6 attack on Congress. The party did not follow Romney and Trump was twice acquitted.

Speaking to the Post, Romney 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.”

He also released a video message.

Romney told the Post he would have been open to helping a Republican candidate other than Trump in 2024, but acknowledged Trump’s grip on the primary.

Romney with his wife and sons at the Iowa caucuses in January 2012.

Romney with his wife and sons at the Iowa caucuses in January 2012, the year he won the Republican nomination. Photograph: Rick Wilking/Reuters

“I doubt my support will mean anything positive to any of the candidates at the finish line,” Romney said, noting the prominence of other far-right candidates, Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy, and saying: “I’m not looking to get involved in that … It’s pretty clear that the party is inclined to a populist demagogue message.”

Asked who he thought would win Biden v Trump round two, Romney said: “Today I’d say 50-50. If I had to bet, I’d say it could go either way. So much can happen between now and then.”

He rejected the idea of a third-party candidate, as floated by the centrist group No Labels, perhaps Joe Manchin, the Democratic senator from West Virginia.

“I lobby continuously that it would only elect Trump,” Romney said.

Saying he would not mount “a farewell tour”, Romney said: “I’m not leaving the party, not retiring. You cannot expect me to hit the beach. I’m going to be as productive as I possibly can be.”

Rejecting the idea that Trump had broken his party, he said: “If it can change in the direction of a populist, it can change back in the direction of my wing.”

Romney is the son of a Republican governor, George Romney of Michigan, who in 1968 ran for the presidential nomination from the establishment wing of the party.

The most successful Mormon politician in US history, Mitt Romney seized the nomination in 2012. But he was conclusively beaten by Obama, who successfully focused on his opponent’s career as a venture capitalist, portraying him as harsh and out of touch.

Still reveling in a rare high point of that campaign – a judgment call about the threat from Russia which Obama did not share – Romney used his Post interview to discourse on foreign policy, rejecting Republican opposition to aid for Ukraine in its war with Russia and praising the Biden administration for its handling of relations with China.

Of threats at home, as demonstrated by the pro-Trump mob which attacked Congress on January 6, Romney said: “I think it’s of paramount importance to maintain our commitment to the constitution and the liberal constitutional order … I do believe that our institutions, while under constant barrage, are strong, that our court system is strong and that, fundamentally, the American people stand by the constitution and the constitutional norms.”

Contradicting his earlier contention that the next election would be 50-50, Romney did predict defeat if Trump is the Republican nominee again.

“I know that there are some in Maga world [a reference to Trump’s slogan, Make America great again] who would like Republican rule, or authoritarian rule by Donald Trump,” he said.

“But I think they may be forgetting that the majority of people in America would not be voting for Donald J Trump. The majority would probably be voting for the Democrats.”

EMEA Tribune is not involved in this news article, it is taken from our partners and or from the News Agencies. Copyright and Credit go to the News Agencies, email [email protected]

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