Elections

Mitt Romney Betrays Republicans and Utah

A bill wending its way through the Utah state legislature would allow voters to recall a sitting U.S. Senator. It will be interesting to see whether it passes, and when Utah voters put it to use.

Senator Mitt Romney portrays his decision to vote “yes” on removing President Trump as one he came to with difficulty and because of principle. He studied and prayed about it. He quoted scripture and church hymns to explain and justify it. But to me, a former supporter, fundraiser, organizer, and fellow faith adherent, it’s a betrayal.

I was an early supporter of Mitt’s original run for the presidency. Starting in 2003, I encouraged young Mormons to get involved in political organizing, in either party. I told them to stop imagining that politicians are pure and holy.

“Politicians pander,” I told them. “Your job is not to change their nature, but to be so involved that they start to pander to you, in addition to other interest groups.” Many of them eventually found their way to the Romney campaign, and are still part of his orbit.

When Mitt ran again in 2012, I knew his inner circle and was a tireless fundraiser. I raised over $950,000, mostly in small donations. As a lifelong diplomat and policy analyst, I was not wealthy, and neither were my friends.

But I believed in Mitt. I believed in his decency, and his ability to manage and to govern.

Mitt’s Betrayal in 2012

Mitt’s first betrayal was his choice to lose the 2012 campaign. The whole nation had seen him snuff Obama during the first debate. He looked like a winner. We thought he was fighting for us. But in the next debate, he soft-pedaled his criticism. He declined to criticize Obama for his failure to protect four Americans killed in Benghazi, although I knew he had been well briefed about what happened there.

I was with him and his team that night. I asked why he had pulled his punches. “Criticism didn’t play well with independent women in Ohio,” a senior aide told me. He stopped fighting because it didn’t look decent.

My family and I were with the Romneys and his inner circle in Boston on Election Night, and for breakfast the morning after. All we could think of was the devastation that four more years of Obama meant for us. Mitt gave up America’s victory for what he perceived as his own private decency.

Mitt’s Betrayals in 2016 and 2018

At the height of the 2016 campaign, Mitt called Donald Trump a “fraud” and a “con man.” He encouraged Republican voters to throw away their votes, allowing Hillary Clinton to become president.

I told people that while Trump may burn down the Washington establishment, Hillary was an invasive species. She would choke the life out of everything, and the country would never recover. I could believe Mitt was principled if he had called out the Clintons in a similar way, but he didn’t.

Mitt knew what the Clintons are, and the destructive policies they would implement. But he let his personal pique at Trump cloud his judgment. I have written elsewhere about Trump’s pleasant manner in private. My family knocked on over 5,500 doors for Trump, and we knew the hope he gave American voters.

In spite of Mitt’s attempt to sabotage the Trump campaign, President-elect Trump interviewed him to be secretary of state. I would believe Mitt’s opposition to Trump was principled if he had politely declined the position. But he didn’t. He interviewed for the job.

When Mitt became a senator from Utah, he used his position to attack his own party. Again, had he called out the unconstitutional, unlawful, and vulgar behavior of the Democrats, we could believe that he was motivated by principle. But he has not criticized a single Democrat for any action, no matter how egregious, in all his tenure in Washington.

Mitt’s Betrayal in 2020

Romney’s vote last week was a betrayal of his Republican colleagues in the Senate, and an act of consummate hypocrisy.

When Mitt ran for president, he had no use for Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Ted Cruz of Texas. Their outspoken devotion to constitutional rule of law—their “grandstanding,” as he saw it—made it difficult for Republicans in swing states. Cruz and Lee should have helped their colleagues win in purple states.

It is Mitt’s vote on impeachment, though, that actually betrays swing-state Republicans. It allows Democrats to call their condemnation of President Trump bipartisan. It is rumored in Washington that Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) pushed for a futile impeachment vote to damage Republican Senators in left-leaning states. Mitt helped him to do that.

Mitt betrayed the president whom he once wanted to serve, who generously considered him for the most senior appointment in his cabinet, the president whose help he requested when he ran for Senate. We all like decency, but at what price? Romney is prepared to barter away liberty, due process, democratic governance, and the rule of law for it. That may make Romney some short-term friends at MSNBC, but for the rest of America, it’s another betrayal.

Why won’t Mitt just own his decision? Instead, he invokes hymns and scripture to justify it. That is a betrayal of the many Latter-day Saints who support Trump.

I sing the same hymns and read the same Bible, same scriptures, and I thank God every day for President Trump, and ask God’s blessing upon him. With Judaism and Christianity under fierce attack, I am grateful for a president who will fight for us, as he promised, who protects our First Amendment rights to speak and assemble, and our Second Amendment rights to self-defense.

But Mitt’s greatest betrayal is the betrayal of his constituents. They didn’t send him to Washington to conduct a personal vendetta. President Trump is more popular in Utah than Mitt Romney is. They sent him to make their lives better, to vote for policies that would let them provide for their families and preserve their liberty. President Trump is doing that, and I suspect Utah voters want Senator Romney to help him. But Romney sided with Democrats who want to take away from Utah voters, and every other American, the right to choose their president in less than nine months.

There is a bill wending its way through the Utah legislature that will allow voters to recall a sitting U.S. senator: HB 217, sponsored by Rep. Tim Quinn. Quinn said he proposed the bill weeks ago, and it is not related to impeachment. The bill sets a high threshold for removal: it would require gathering about 265,000 valid signatures to get on the ballot, and a simple majority to remove a senator. It will be interesting to see whether it passes, and when Utah voters put it to use.