Incoming Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah – the 2012 GOP nominee for president – said he will not challenge Donald Trump in 2020, but he refused to endorse him for re-election.
In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Romney said, “I haven’t decided who I’m going to endorse in 2020. I’m going to see what the alternatives are.”
In other words, while Romney said he isn’t launching his own bid, he is all but encouraging other Republican candidates to get in the game and challenge Trump.
Sen.-elect @MittRomney says he’s not running for president in 2020. He also says he hasn’t made a decision on whether to endorse President Trump’s re-election: “I want to see what the alternatives are.” https://t.co/bIsXrR91sl pic.twitter.com/7SEdi4B83a
— The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) January 2, 2019
Well, you know, after he was elected president, it was very much my hope that he would rise to the occasion, rise to the mantle of the office. After all, becoming president of the United States is quite an elevation for anybody. And he has said during the campaign that he could be extraordinarily presidential. When I hear that, i think of Washington and Lincoln and Jefferson and Roosevelt and Kennedy and Eisenhower, and I think of those qualities. And I think while he spoke of that and while that was my hope, I don’t think he’s followed through on that front the way he’s followed through on some of his other promises. … I haven’t decided who I’m going to endorse in 2020. I’m going to see what the alternatives are. … I think it’s early to make that decision, and I want to see what the alternatives are. But I pointed out there are places where we agree on a whole series of policy fronts, but there are places that I think the president can, if you will, elevate his game and do a better job to help bring us together as a nation. … No, I’m not running again and we’ll see whether someone else does in a Republican primary or not, but time will tell.
Romney’s comments should terrify Donald Trump
The fact that Mitt Romney – still a leader within the GOP – won’t endorse the sitting president of his own party should terrify Trump. It’s also an indicator that there are more within the party who feel the same way.
Worse for Trump is that Romney took it a step further by essentially encouraging other Republicans to step up and primary the incumbent president.
Given the history of presidential politics, a primary challenge for this president would be dire for his re-election chances. As CBS News noted, “Most of the time, presidents who fend off a primary challenge wind up losing the general election.”
Ultimately, it’s easy to dismiss Mitt Romney’s remarks as hollow rhetoric, but they could be indicative of a brewing revolt of Donald Trump among members of his own party. Ahead of 2020, that’s a disaster for Trump.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.