Speed Reads


Mitt Romney kicks off his Senate tenure with a Washington Post op-ed criticizing Trump's leadership failures

Mitt Romney, the Republican former governor of Massachusetts and 2012 GOP presidential nominee, will be sworn in as the junior senator from Utah on Thursday, and he is beginning his new job with a Washington Post op-ed calling President Trump a failed leader. Romney notes in his Tuesday night op-ed that "Trump was not my choice for the Republican presidential nomination," but says after he won, "I hoped he would rise to the occasion." Nope: "On balance, his conduct over the past two years, particularly his actions this month, is evidence that the president has not risen to the mantle of the office."

Romney registers his approval of Trump's tax cuts, regulatory rollback, China trade crackdown, conservative judicial nominations, and many of his early appointees, but in the "qualities of character" department, he says, Trump's "shortfall has been most glaring," both in a divided America and an increasingly chaotic world America no longer leads.

In a hard jab, Romney highlights the 68-point plummet in trust America's closest allies have that the U.S. president will do the right thing between former President Barack Obama's last year in office and Trump's first year. Romney says that as senator, he will treat Trump as he would any president — vote with him when it aligns with his and Utah's interests, oppose him when it doesn't — and claims he won't "comment on every tweet or fault" but will "speak out against significant statements or actions that are divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest, or destructive to democratic institutions." Somewhat cryptically, Romney says the "project" to "repair failings in our politics at home" must begin "with the highest office once again acting to inspire and unite us."

What does this mean? There's speculation that this is the beginning of a Romney 2020 primary campaign against Trump, but McKay Coppins at The Atlantic notes that in a recent Associated Press poll, 64 percent of Utah voters say they want Sen. Romney to stand up to Trump. Read Romney's op-ed at The Washington Post.