Update: 6:00 PM EST: “Romney broadside stokes Trump camp’s suspicions about 2020, Those close to the incoming Utah senator told POLITICO he agonized over whether to publish the rebuke…. At a time when talk of a 2020 GOP primary has simmered, Trump aides said Romney, on the eve of his swearing in to the Senate, was seeking to define himself as the new leader of the Never Trump movement. They noted that Romney had taken steps in recent weeks to reactivate the national fundraising network he’d established in his 2012 presidential bid: This fall, long before being sworn in, the new senator hosted a fundraiser for his political action committee.” Politico
Update: 4:00 PM EST: “Sen. Mitt Romney on Wednesday said he won’t run for president again, though he warned that President Donald Trump doesn’t necessarily have his support for his 2020 reelection campaign.” “I think it’s early to make that decision and I want to see what the alternatives are,” Romney told CNN’s Jake Tapper about whether he will endorse Trump in 2020. Politico
Mitt Romney says “the president shapes the public character of the nation and Trump’s character falls short” in an OpEd and Trump is up at 4:53 AM Tweeting a blast against him. Perhaps he was up all night persevering over the New Years day evening Washington Post OpEd which was posted online at 8 PM. I can see him Tweeting in frustrated fulminating over the fact that even though he lost a Flake he has gain a higher profile nationally known Republican taking on the mantle of ethical Republicanism worn previously by McCain and Flake.
Romney: “To a great degree, a presidency shapes the public character of the nation. A president should unite us and inspire us to follow “our better angels.” A president should demonstrate the essential qualities of honesty and integrity, and elevate the national discourse with comity and mutual respect. As a nation, we have been blessed with presidents who have called on the greatness of the American spirit. With the nation so divided, resentful and angry, presidential leadership in qualities of character is indispensable. And it is in this province where the incumbent’s shortfall has been most glaring.”
Trump at 4:53 AM on Twitter: “Here we go with Mitt Romney, but so fast! Question will be, is he a Flake? I hope not. Would much prefer that Mitt focus on Border Security and so many other things where he can be helpful. I won big, and he didn’t. He should be happy for all Republicans. Be a TEAM player & WIN!”
Trump knows that there are only two other Republicans who at present are a credible threat to his renomination.
Both will be busy over the next year should they have their eyes on the prize.
If Jeff Flake launches an exploratory committee in short order it will rattle the chandeliers in the Mar-a-Lago ballroom. Flake, with nothing else to fill his time, will be able to put together a team, raise money, and travel around the country to build momentum among those crucial Trump voters with buyer’s remorse, with those who want a mentally stable president, and among those who voted for both Bushes and who thought Trump would shutter the clown act once he was elected and learn to become president.
The newly minted senator, Mitt Romney has to be considering a run against Trump. He knows he has to appeal to the same voters Flake will need to win the nomination. However he is constrained in that he has to run as a freshman senator not a former senator with time on his hands to criss-cross the nation in a painted bus holding town halls which will be televised on all the local stations.
Watch for the relationship between Mitch McConnell and Romney. See if the relationship is good and McConnell wants to foster the chances for a successful Romney run. This may be evidenced by committee assignments Romney gets. If he’s assigned to low-profile committees this means McConnell doesn’t want to help Romney gain national exposure.
On the other hand, if he lands on some of the committees which will be looking into Trump McConnell will have assured he’ll be in the limelight.
If Romney doesn’t get national attention handed to him by virtue of his positions on committees which have their hearing televised he can also sign on to bills co-sponsored by Democrat and bring up bill of his own.
Not to be underestimated is the power of the OpEd. Romney is unlikely to communicate by Tweets. He knows the power of the OpEd. He knows how to write a powerful grammatical sentence and string them together into a paragraph. He knows the power of words which will be republished across the Internet, for example in HUFFPOST today:
Romney argued in his op-ed that the Trump administration has caused “dismay around the world” and that the president “has not risen to the mantle of the office.”
“It is well-known that Donald Trump was not my choice for the Republican presidential nomination,” Romney wrote. “After he became the nominee, I hoped his campaign would refrain from resentment and name-calling. It did not.”
Being criticized from two fronts to will have the effect of distracting Trump from his usual rage-Tweets against Democrats.
He once described Romney as choking in his run against Obama, and also walking “like a penguin onto the stage” and then moved his fingers back and forth in a walking motion said again “like a penguin!.” During the 2012 presidential campaign Trump said Mitt Romney had not paid any taxes over the past decade. Then Romney released tax returns proving that he did.
I expect we will see more self-satisfied juvenile language about Jeff Flake and Mitt Romney coming from Trump in 2019.
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