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Romney's woes: No fun for mainstream GOP in Trump era

Mitt Romney had a tough day in Utah. The former Massachusetts Governor and Republican presidential nominee lost in th...

Posted: Apr 23, 2018 11:50 AM
Updated: Apr 23, 2018 11:50 AM

Mitt Romney had a tough day in Utah. The former Massachusetts Governor and Republican presidential nominee lost in the nominating caucuses to state representative Mike Kennedy at the Utah GOP Convention.

Not only did Romney fail to reach the 60% vote needed to secure a place on the November ballot, but Kennedy took the lead in the second round of voting with 50.88%. Romney, one of the most well-known Republicans in the country, came in second place with 49.12% of the vote. Now Romney must compete in a primary to see if he can make the final cut.

Romney is a perfect symbol of the confused state of many Republicans who do not sit squarely within President Donald Trump's political camp. For a brief spell during the 2016 campaign, Romney re-emerged on the political stage when he billed himself as the top "Never-Trumper" with a widely-publicized speech calling Trump a "fraud" and a "cheat."

Romney also did not hesitate to criticize Trump's response to Charlottesville -- saying Trump's comments caused "racists to rejoice."

Not surprisingly, when Senator Orin Hatch was debating whether to retire, Trump strongly encouraged him to run for the Senate again -- slighting Romney, who was considering a run for Hatch's seat.

And yet Romney has also tried to endear himself to Trump -- particularly when he was eager to jump into the Secretary of State sweepstakes. And recently, he has remained relatively supportive of the administration. Indeed, during his tour of Utah, he has been explaining to voters the similarities between himself and the President on many key issues, including taxation and public control of land. On immigration, Romney boasts that he is far more conservative than the President.

Romney's story is not unique, and the impact on Republican candidacies in 2018 could be a huge boon to Democrats as they seek to regain control of Congress. While his unstable governance style and embrace of radical populist ideas on issues like immigration might end up working for Trump as president, the Republican Party and its leaders could end up paying a steep price for allowing this presidency to happen and for continuing to support it.

Like Romney, most Republicans have stood by Trump. Similar to Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Romney has offered strong words about what the President is doing wrong but then generally remained a loyal party foot soldier to the Commander in Chief. His transformation into a Trump supporter during his effort to win over the conservatives at the Utah convention was yet another indication that when push comes to shove, most in the GOP are not willing to break with the President.

In Romney's case, it wasn't enough. Many party leaders and activists still don't forgive Romney for his blistering campaign speech. Speaking to a reporter at the Utah convention, one delegate said, "If he [Romney] would have succeeded in bringing down Donald Trump, we most likely would have ended up with Hillary Clinton."

The GOP will now rise or fall as the Party of Trump. Republicans like Mitt Romney have been the strongest proof that there is no great distance between themselves and the President. While many social conservatives still like to complain about Trump's Playboy values and "mainstream Republicans" don't like his governing style, most have not taken any kind of serious steps to stop him.

Most Republicans in Congress have voted for his bills, and they have not tried to check his executive orders through legislation. House Republicans have shut down the investigations into the administration and devoted more energy to going after the investigators. Many Republicans who have been extremely critical of the president in public have later cozied up to him on the golf course.

The midterm elections will be the first test of whether Republicans will pay a price for the Romney-like embrace of this unconventional presidency. If recent polls showing a diminished Democratic advantage turn out to be true, then Republicans will likely stand by their man for the rest of his term or two terms. The current vacillation about whether some Republicans would endorse Trump, including from Romney, is nothing more than politicians hedging their bets.

If Democrats regain control of Congress, however, that might be the only thing that actually stirs more Republicans to openly oppose this administration by joining Democrats in a bipartisan coalition to reverse his agenda and by pouring resources into members of the party seeking to challenge him in 2020.

Until then, however, most Republicans will still be part of a party, as defined by the Romney perspective, who are simply holding their noses, toeing the party line and waiting to get through the rest of the term without sticking their necks out against Trump.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 333626

Reported Deaths: 3843
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin700691145
Ramsey29459521
Dakota23564198
Anoka23541236
Washington14864125
Stearns14564125
St. Louis9549121
Scott896460
Wright847548
Olmsted714637
Sherburne618746
Clay529960
Carver509715
Kandiyohi440828
Rice432338
Blue Earth431217
Crow Wing383339
Otter Tail338925
Chisago334516
Benton322753
Nobles316032
Winona297832
Douglas283040
Mower274823
Polk271527
Morrison246731
McLeod233721
Lyon232812
Beltrami230718
Goodhue222932
Becker221521
Steele21038
Itasca206324
Isanti203917
Carlton201417
Todd190314
Nicollet172126
Mille Lacs164632
Freeborn16227
Le Sueur157012
Brown156115
Cass153511
Pine14498
Meeker144812
Waseca143411
Roseau13035
Martin124721
Hubbard119729
Wabasha11301
Redwood104620
Chippewa9808
Renville95530
Cottonwood9454
Dodge9311
Watonwan8944
Wadena8637
Sibley8404
Rock8249
Houston8004
Aitkin79930
Fillmore7690
Pipestone76518
Pennington7058
Yellow Medicine69612
Kanabec68614
Swift63610
Murray6124
Faribault6093
Pope5721
Clearwater55410
Marshall5459
Stevens5403
Jackson5321
Lake4518
Koochiching4216
Wilkin4175
Lac qui Parle4124
Lincoln3811
Unassigned38159
Norman3718
Big Stone3392
Mahnomen3225
Grant2986
Kittson2518
Red Lake2303
Traverse1531
Lake of the Woods1071
Cook800

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 237371

Reported Deaths: 2571
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk34873347
Linn14787169
Scott1184692
Black Hawk11288147
Woodbury10763137
Johnson985939
Dubuque947999
Story701924
Pottawattamie682474
Dallas661260
Sioux383829
Webster378339
Cerro Gordo373252
Marshall360950
Clinton345645
Buena Vista316614
Muscatine305172
Des Moines300623
Warren294115
Plymouth287044
Wapello265072
Jones237118
Jasper231546
Lee228719
Marion211922
Carroll204325
Bremer202713
Henry19367
Crawford183116
Benton175423
Tama157442
Jackson151117
Washington150216
Delaware147621
Dickinson145812
Boone144912
Mahaska133928
Wright13107
Clay12505
Buchanan123410
Hardin122812
Hamilton119514
Page11925
Kossuth11768
Clayton115510
Cedar114614
Harrison113432
Floyd111921
Mills11129
Calhoun10987
Fayette109812
Lyon10769
Butler10748
Winneshiek105513
Poweshiek103714
Iowa101414
Cherokee9674
Winnebago96325
Chickasaw9195
Hancock9138
Sac9068
Louisa90122
Grundy89514
Allamakee88413
Cass84725
Union8437
Mitchell8429
Appanoose81613
Humboldt8125
Shelby80511
Emmet79026
Guthrie78315
Franklin76421
Jefferson7635
Madison7265
Unassigned7090
Palo Alto6744
Keokuk6567
Pocahontas6024
Howard5859
Ida54915
Osceola5461
Greene5422
Montgomery51411
Clarke5064
Davis4839
Taylor4833
Monona4567
Adair4539
Monroe45113
Worth3881
Fremont3823
Van Buren3815
Decatur3410
Lucas3416
Audubon3112
Wayne3087
Ringgold2432
Adams1812
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