WASHINGTON ― Republican Sen. Mitt Romney seems to be everywhere these days. One place he’s not going? On the campaign trail for another crack at the White House.
“That’s not going to happen again. I’ve been there, I’ve tried that twice. I’m happy being a senator,” Romney, 75, told HuffPost when asked about a presidential run in 2024.
The Utah Republican has certainly been a key player in the Senate recently. He helped broker a bipartisan deal on additional COVID-19 aid, and he’s participating in a bipartisan effort focused on making critical electoral reforms in order to make sure Donald Trump-style power grabs are harder to pull off. He even cast a surprising vote to confirm President Joe Biden’s historic Supreme Court nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson, earlier this month.
Last month, one of the largest newspapers in Utah published a column that laid out the case for a Romney 2024 bid. “With Democrats on the ropes and Republicans divided, Mitt Romney should consider running for president,” said the story in The Deseret News.
As the column noted, Romney would stand very little chance of making it out of what is expected to be a very crowded GOP primary of Trump loyalists. The former president still holds an firm grip on the party, and establishment Republicans who refuse to bend the knee have often gone the way of the dinosaur.
Romney is the only GOP senator who voted to convict Trump in both of his impeachment trials ― for withholding aid to Ukraine in order to bolster his presidential campaign and for inciting the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Breaking with his party earned Romney deep scorn from the former president and his supporters.
Romney himself believes Trump’s sway over the GOP is unrivaled. Last year, he predicted Trump would win the Republican presidential nomination if he were tu run again in 2024. (Though, to be fair, he doesn’t have a great track record of making predictions.)
“I look at the polls, and the polls show that among the names being floated as potential contenders in 2024, if you put President Trump in there among Republicans, he wins in a landslide,” Romney said.
Still, some “never Trump” Republicans may decide to run for president in 2024 anyway, if only to get an opportunity to tell off Trump on the debate stage. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), another critic of Trump, told HuffPost he’d “love” to get that chance.
“Even if he crushed me, like in a primary, to be able to stand up and call out the garbage is just a necessary thing, regardless of who it is. ... I think it’d be fun,” Kinzinger said.
But Romney may have other ideas. Honoring former Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, who died over the weekend, with a heartfelt speech on the Senate floor on Wednesday, Romney hailed his predecessor as a “lion of the Senate” who left “an indelible mark” on the institution with his decades of public service.
“I will never have the legacy of Orrin Hatch. I’m thinking of staying for 40 years, but I’m thinking that’s unlikely,” Romney quipped to HuffPost afterward.
The senator has yet to decide whether to run for reelection, telling The Hill he hasn’t given it much thought. He also hasn’t spent much energy fundraising, despite the likelihood of a Trump-backed primary in 2024.