Mitt’s return: Will he take on Trump?
“Mitt Romney is finally going to Washington,” said Max Perry Mueller in Slate.com. A decade after his first presidential run, the former Massachusetts governor is now a shoo-in to replace retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) after announcing his campaign for the Utah seat last week. One of the country’s leading Mormons and a beloved figure in the heavily Republican state, Romney, 70, is “on a mission” to bring “Utah’s values” to Capitol Hill, he said in his launch video—including the state’s openness to immigration, its balanced budget, and its belief in “treat[ing] one another with respect.” Dignified and principled, Romney is perhaps “the last hope for the GOP,” said Siraj Hashmi in WashingtonExaminer.com. In 2016, he was one of our “braggadocious” president’s most outspoken critics—calling the then real estate mogul a “fraud” and “con man” whose “promises are worthless as a degree from Trump University.” If he makes it to the Senate, Romney could provide a much-needed “conservative check on Trump.”
“Don’t bet on it,” said Deirdre Shesgreen and Ledyard King in USAToday.com. There’s certainly no love lost between Trump and Romney—the president has derided the onetime Republican nominee as a “choke artist.” But Romney has signaled he won’t turn his Senate bid into an “anti-Trump crusade”; instead, he’s planning to serve as living proof that there’s a traditional Republican alternative to Trumpism. When Trump unexpectedly tweeted this week that Romney would make a “great” senator, Romney thanked him. Whether Romney realizes it or not, said Kristin Tate in TheHill.com, it’s Trump’s party now. Romney had his chance to lead the GOP in 2012—“and failed.” The current political climate calls for a populist warrior, not a “patrician statesman” who favors “amnesty” for illegal immigrants and gave Massachusetts “Romneycare.”
For now, both Trump and Romney are hiding their mutual loathing, said Chris Cillizza in CNN.com. The president knows Romney is “close to a sure thing to win in the fall,” and Trump likes “being associated with winning.” Romney, on the other hand, doesn’t want the distractions of Trump savaging him on Twitter and demanding a pro-Trump primary opponent. And so here we are, with two men who are polar opposites in “their personalities, their lives, their beliefs,” each pretending to think the other is swell. “Well, isn’t that special!” ■