Romney ‘sickened’ by Trump’s dishonesty

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, left. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Sen. Mitt Romney says he’s “sickened” by the dishonesty the Russia investigation found in the Trump White House, but the president fires back that Romney should have put the same energy into running for president in 2012 that the Utah Republican has tapped in criticizing him.

Romney also tweeted Friday that in reading the special counsel’s report he was “appalled” Americans working on the Trump campaign had welcomed help from Russia.

On Saturday, Trump responded via Twitter, saying if Romney “spent the same energy fighting Barack Obama as he does fighting Donald Trump, he could have won the race (maybe)!”

In 2012 Romney won a slightly greater percentage of the popular vote than Trump in 2016. He’s one of the few prominent Republicans to criticize Trump since Trump’s election.

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Romney: Another Trump rubber stamper, enabler?

Mitt Romney didn’t join the other 11 Republican senators who voted with the Democrats to vote to sanction the companies of Russian oligarch and Putin pal Oleg Deripaska. His vote wouldn’t have made a difference but it would have signalled that he might be his own man, not a self-interested typical Senate Republican who is tethered to Mitch McConnell.

Explaining why he voted with the Democrats Marco Rubio of Florida said of the bill “I don’t like the way it’s structured.” The other Republican senators who voted with Democrats in both the procedural vote to advance the measure to the entire Senate and then the vote in the Senate were John Boozman of Arkansas, Susan Collins of Maine, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Steve Daines of Montana, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Josh Hawley of Missouri, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Martha McSally of Arizona, Jerry Moran of Kansas and Ben Sasse of Nebraska.

Of course the Republicans won the day for Putin and Trump with the measure passing 57 to 42. It is off-putting to know that Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York missed the vote apparently because she thought it was more important to go to New York to appear on Stephen Colbert to announced her first step to start a campaign the Democratic  2020 presidential nomination.

Perhaps McConnell called in some chits for giving putting Romney of most of the committees he asked for. Freshman senators usually have to jockey to get on even one or two of the major committees which would give him national exposure.

According to a home state newspaper, The Desert News, Romney had “planned to submit requests for the Foreign Relations, Finance and Commerce. In a November interview, Romney expressed an interest in finance as well as foreign relations, education, health care, agriculture, small business and natural resources. He acknowledged that as a freshman he would not necessarily get his first choice.”

Romney ended up on Foreign Relations, apparently his first choice, and Homeland Security, choice assignments. However profile committee assignments he’s on are Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Governmental Affairs; and Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

As I wrote about before, Romney could be eyeing either a primary challenge against Trump or if Trump doesn’t run in 2020 he almost certainly would enter the race and could very well be the favorite.

Unless something drastic changes and he gets religion or resets his ethical compass we can expect that Romney will be just another McConnell rubber stamp.

Could Romney redeem himself? It is possible, especially considering the breaking news from Buzzfeed, President Trump Directed His Attorney To Lie To Congress About The Moscow Tower Project, which reveals high crimes and misdemeanors which Barbara McQuade (a former US Attorney) said on The 11th Hour on MSNBC could be grounds for impeachment. Romney could do what Sen. Barry Goldwater, R-Ariz., and U.S. House Minority Leader John Rhodes, R-Ariz., and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Hugh Scott, R-Pa., did when they made it clear to Nixon that he faced nearly certain impeachment, conviction and removal from office due to the Watergate scandal.

Romney could help lead a group of rebellious Republicans to vote to convict Trump. Some might join because they are facing tough 2020 reelection battles and others, perhaps just a few, may have some sense of nobility and want to save our democracy and not be a part of its destruction. They would join an impeachment insurrection so that if and when the House impeached Trump, there would be enough Senate votes to remove him from office.

If they went to McConnell together he’d have little choice but to go to Trump with the news the way Goldwater did with Nixon.


UPDATED Jan. 19, 2019

Romney Backs Trump in Shutdown Showdown, Questions Pelosi

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Dems must consider running against Romney/Flake

I wasn’t going to write this until Trump went down in ignominious flames. While I’m not superstitious, I still thought doing so might jinx the chance of him being impeached, resigning, or deciding not to run in 2020. If the polls showed he didn’t stand a chance of winning not just in the general election, but even in a primary if heavyweight anti-Trumpers like Romney and Flake decided to challenge him finding a self-aggrandizing way not to run. I could see him saying he had achieved more in four years than any other president accomplished in eight and announcing he could serve the nation better as the Emperor of the Galaxy or some-such proof he had finally succumbed to a delusional psychosis.

This summer Newsweek wrote “Which Republicans could challenge in 2020” and described four: John Kasich, Jeff Flake, Ted Cruz, and Ben Sasse. The summer before CNN had a fifth on their list, Scott Walker who was still Wisconsin governor.

By March of 2018 the previous lists were winnowed down and included only Kasich and flake in an article by Chris Cillizza on CNN. Significantly the Mitt Romney was the third on the new list. Romney currently is not only the prime threat to pro-Trumpers in the Senate because he could lead a rebellion of Republicans supporting conviction if the House impeached him, but because he could be the GOP’s last best hope of winning in 2020.

If, sans Trump, the 2020 race had an open primary, I think it would be a hard-fought race which certainly could include the five mentioned in these article and more.

If a vindicated Trump who is surging in the polls is running I still think it’s possible Jeff Flake and Mitt Romney might still challenge him. A grinning Trump would be bragging and ranting about how the fake news was humiliated, how Mueller’s investigation ended up being a nothing burger, how the Democrats caved in and funded his big beautiful wall, and how he saved your grandmother from vicious immigrant criminals. Flake and Romney would have to convince the Republicans who would probably be backing Trump close to 100% that he was still unfit to represent their party.

If, knock on wood, Trump has retired in shame and moved to live permanently at Mar-a-Lago with Trump Tower occupied by wife and Barron and rumor swirling that there’s a secret divorce in progress, the question we will all be asking is whether the Democratic Party front-runner can beat Mitt Romney or Jeff Flake.

Either would be a formidable presidential opponent against any Democrat, but consider how daunting a task it would be to run against what I am sure would be the dream ticket for old school Republicans like Michael Steele (who during the William Barr hearing Tuesday Lindsay Graham mistook for Chistopher Steele), Jennifer Rubin, George Will, and Nicolle Wallace: Romney/Flake.

Romney would run as the elder statesman, as a smart and stable Republican who looks and talks like a president and would return dignity to the Oval Office and eschew tweeting. He would be 72 or 73.  Flake, who would be 57 or 58, would run as the new blood of the party.

Both are Mormons who received their bachelors degrees from Brigham Young University. You can be sure there are no Stormy Daniels waiting to emerge during the campaign.

While the Democrats are positioning themselves to run against a wounded Trump and both inside the party and outside there are debates as to who is best suiting to take him on they should be considering who can handily beat a Romney/Flake ticket.

Biden/Beto not only has a ring to it, but this could be the winning ticket pitting another elder statesman candidate and a new blood candidate against a similar GOP ticket.

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Will Romney be a Flake? We can only hope so.

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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Departing Trump critics leave critical void in Senate

Bob Corker of Tennessee.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

President Donald Trump’s most prominent GOP critics on Capitol Hill are close to completing their Senate careers, raising the question of who — if anyone — will take their place as willing to publicly criticize a president who remains popular with nearly 9 in 10 Republican voters.

Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee engaged in a war of words with the president on myriad issues over the past 18 months, generating headlines and fiery tweets from a president who generally insists on getting the last word. Those battles put them on the outs with many in their own party, and they paid a price. Both decided to retire rather than take on a difficult re-election campaign.

Flake was far and away Trump’s most consistent critic among Senate Republicans. Corker weighed in less often, but his description of the White House as an “adult day care center” rankled the president, who dubbed him “Liddle’ Bob Corker.” The feud continued as Corker headed for the exits, with Trump asserting that Corker’s promise to serve only two terms was not the real reason he retired. Rather, Corker “wanted to run but poll numbers TANKED when I wouldn’t endorse him,” Trump tweeted.

Corker replied: “Yes, just like Mexico is paying for the wall… #AlertTheDaycareStaff.”

One possible voice of dissent could come from Utah Sen.-elect Mitt Romney. In a Washington Post op-ed Tuesday, Romney wrote that Trump’s “conduct over the past two years … is evidence that the president has not risen to the mantle of the office.”

Romney praised some of Trump’s policy decisions, but added: “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.”

Romney has had his public run-ins with the president.

Throughout his Senate campaign, Romney insisted that he would agree with Trump on some issues and not be shy about disagreeing on others. Romney appears to have more room with GOP voters in Utah to take on the president. Most voters in Utah — 64 percent — would like to see the senator confront the president, according to data from AP VoteCast, a survey of midterm voters.

Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska has frequently criticized Trump for what he considers the president’s uncivil rhetoric. Sasse has also said he “regularly” considers leaving his party and becoming an independent. He is up for re-election in 2020 and has said he’ll decide by the summer whether to seek a second term. It would be tricky terrain for Sasse to publicly battle with Trump, who won the state in 2016 by 25 percentage points.

Rory Cooper, a GOP strategist who helped lead the “Never Trump PAC” during the 2016 Republican primary, said publicly criticizing the president makes Republican votes back home unhappy and earns the ire of the president. Meanwhile, Democratic voters and the media give them too little credit, he said.

“There is not an incentive structure for senators who disagree with or oppose the president to speak out right now, but that could change if the (Robert) Mueller investigation continues to move in the direction it has been or the economy churns negative,” Cooper said.

Senate Republicans chafe at the notion they are unwilling to take on a president whose statements and policy positions often run counter to traditional conservative positions.

Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., said he raised his concerns about trade policy privately with the president.

“I want results,” Rounds said, “instead of hardening positions.”

Rounds said he rode with Trump after meeting him at the airport when the president visited South Dakota during the midterm election season, telling him the state’s soybean farmers were facing losses of some $500 million because of retaliatory tariffs. He said Trump told him: “We’re going to have a better deal for them. If they hang with me, we’re going to make this better.”

Rounds said his job is to make things better and “that doesn’t mean I have to be out there in front fighting with someone.”

Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., said “there’s all sorts of active disagreements that go on” with the White House behind the scenes.

“I support the president as well as anybody. Behind closed doors, there are things on tariffs and things like that where we’ve offered a differing opinion. But I support this president in terms of what he’s trying to do. This agenda is working,” Perdue said, citing strong economic growth and low unemployment.

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said he suspects the 2020 elections will prompt more Republican senators to confront Trump when they disagree with him, and that may already be happening, citing recent actions on Saudi Arabia.

The Senate passed a measure that blamed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and called on Riyadh to “ensure appropriate accountability.” Senators also passed a separate measure calling for the end of U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. The resolutions showed senators seeking to assert oversight of Trump administration foreign policy and the relationship with Saudi Arabia.

“Almost half of their caucus is up for re-election. They just saw what happened in 2018,” Durbin said of Republicans, who lost the House majority to Democrats. “I think, once they do polling back home, not all of them, but many of them will find that independence is being rewarded.”

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