Dear Mitt Romney: grow a spine, or stop pretending you have one (Opinion)

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Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) swarmed by reporters after criticizing President Trump’s call for China and Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden

WASHINGTON – Mitt Romney has made a habit of going against the GOP’s devotion to President Trump…at least semantically. A frequent Trump critic (using that term lightly), Romney has notably been among the most prominent ‘never-Trumpers’ in the 2016 election cycle, even giving a very publicized speech against Trump in that March. Of course, Romney famously repented on much of his criticism when he was rumoured to be on the short-list for Trump’s Secretary of State nominee, which lead to quite possibly the most awkward dinner photo of all time. Next, shortly after his 2018 Utah Senate victory (in which he was very comfortable accepting Trump’s endorsement), Romney penned an editorial for the Washington Post critiquing much of Trump’s character, and then went on to align with Trump’s policies 80% of the time. This past week delivered the latest installment in Romney’s fluctuating feud with the President. On Friday, he remarked in a public statement, “By all appearances, the President’s brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is wrong and appalling.” Predictably, Trump shot back, firing a series of tweets attacking Romney, which included a puzzling call for Romney’s impeachment (it’s been a long week). 

As stated before, Romney’s opposition to Trump’s alleged dealings with Ukraine and China regarding Biden is far from surprising. What will be a surprise is if he sticks with said opposition. It’s clear that Romney, in a similar manner to former Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, has tried to capture the increasingly nostalgic wing of the modern-day GOP, a dwindling group of conservatives who have been turned off by Trump since the beginning. And, it’s also clear that Romney, in a similar manner to Sen. Flake, simply does not have the strength to do such a thing. Instead, he seems content with the PR side of things. He’ll oppose an unpopular policy, bask in the glory of his bipartisan heroics, do nothing to actually prevent said policy, and finish the day with an unearned sense of accomplishment. This cycle is what makes Romney’s unofficial support for an impeachment inquiry less significant, and it’s one of the largest roadblocks to a true bipartisan approach to Trump’s impeachment.

There are legitimate benefits for the GOP to be more active on the impeachment front. As reported by Politico on Thursday, suburban white women, a group Trump is banking much of his re-election hopes on, are becoming supportive of impeachment; only the die-hard supporters remain steadfast in their support for Trump. With 2020 looking like less of a surefire win, there’s potential for Romney. Even 7 years removed from his 2012 defeat, Romney remains among the GOP’s most prominent figures, and an unwavering case for impeachment on his end could inspire other Republicans to do the same. The aforementioned Jeff Flake mentioned at the 2019 Texas Tribune Festival that there would be “at least 35” GOP votes against Trump if impeachment were done via a secret ballot. Even taking Flakes words as an overestimate, it’s clear that there cracks among Republican lawmakers than we currently know about. Senator Romney, this is your time. To quote George Washington from the 2016 musical Hamilton (really striking while the iron is hot here, I know), “History has its eyes on you.” You want to be remembered as the conservative hero who took down Trump from the inside? Stand by your words. If you want to prove to America that you can pull the GOP out of the rabbit hole, then you need to supply the rope. If you can’t do this, then relegate yourself down the pits of congressional obscurity, and stop pretending that your words carry any weight. It’s that simple. 

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