Republican Utah senatorial candidate Mitt Romney made a major mistake in answering a question about President Donald Trump. The results of his answer, in an interview with CNN who has been a staunch enemy of the president, led to him being publicly humiliated moments later.
Since the announcement by Republican Utah Sen. Orin Hatch that he would retire at the end of his term, Romney was a shoe-in to replace him. But all of that changed on Saturday after Romney told CNN that he could not commit to supporting President Trump is his reelection bid for the presidency in 2020.
“I will make that decision down the road,” Romney said as he waited to speak at the Utah GOP convention in an effort to gain his party’s nomination. “As a person of political experience, if I endorse someone, I’ll want to know what’s in it for Utah and what help would he provide for us on key priorities in Utah.”
“I’m not a cheap date,” Romney said. He is also not a very bright date. The former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican nominee for president was an outspoken critic of the president during the 2016 presidential campaign. Although he has since mended fences with President Trump, he appears to be, as many in the establishment of the party have been, someone who cannot grasp that the party has changed, and it is President Trump’s party now.
That is a mistake that cost him dearly on Saturday as he snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. In what was supposed to be a formality in which Romney would be crowned the heir apparent to Sen. Hatch, he lost the bid for the Republican Party’s nomination and will now have to face his fellow Republican candidates in a primary, CNN reported.
What was more embarrassing for Romney was that he did not even finish first in the voting, being edged out by state Rep. Mike Kennedy who secured 50.88 percent of the vote to Romney’s 49.12 percent. Romney tried to put on a happy face, but the defeat was stunning.
“This is terrific for the people of Utah, and I really want to thank the delegates who stayed so late to give me the kind of boost that I got here today,” Romney said after the vote. “We’re going to have a good primary.” Kennedy was as stunned as anyone that he had defeated Romney.
“I don’t know,” Kennedy said when asked why his message resonated more with the delegates. “I don’t know — it’s just my message. We’ve got 60 days to reach out to as many voters as we can.” And Romney has 60 days to make amends for his stance against the president, an arduous task.
Utah is not a state where President Donald Trump has as strong of support as he has in other Republican states, as many Utah GOP members are moderate, CNN reported. But that does not mean they forgive Romney for attempting to get Hillary Clinton elected.
“(Romney) did everything he could — probably more than any man in America — to get Hillary Clinton elected,” Ken Welch, who urged delegates to oppose Romney, said. “He had national news conferences, and spoke on Fox News, to announce that Donald Trump was a fraud, he was a lousy businessman. He’s a ‘Never Trumper.’ If he would have succeeded in bringing down Donald Trump, we most likely would have ended up with Hillary Clinton.”
Mitt Romney has two months to convince Utah voters that he supports President Donald Trump. But if his statement to CNN on Saturday is any indication, he has not learned his lesson. Now, he is going to need the president to support him in his election bid. Perhaps President Trump will decide “down the road.”