WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee and incoming Utah senator, has quickly set himself apart from other Republicans in the new Congress with a blistering attack on President Donald Trump’s leadership and character.
Romney put to rest expectations that he would take his time getting his footing in Washington. Instead, in a Washington Post column published two days before Romney was sworn into office, he said Trump’s “conduct over the past two years, particularly his actions last month, is evidence that the president has not risen to the mantle of the office.”
Trump, in a Twitter response, said he hoped Romney wouldn’t follow in the footsteps of Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who often criticized Trump and paid the price, opting to retire rather than risk defeat in a GOP primary in 2018.
“Would much prefer that Mitt focus on Border Security and so many other things where he can be helpful,” Trump tweeted. “I won big, and he didn’t. He should be happy for all Republicans. Be a TEAM player & WIN!”
Romney’s remarks prompted swift backlash from allies of the president in the Republican Party — including his own niece, Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee.
McDaniel retweeted Trump’s remarks about Romney and added that the president is constantly “attacked and obstructed” by the media and Democrats.
“For an incoming Republican freshman senator to attack” Trump @realdonaldtrump as their first act feeds into what the Democrats and media want and is disappointing and unproductive,” McDaniel tweeted.
GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said the 2020 election hopes of many Republicans in the Senate and House will be tied to Trump. He said that the criticisms were bad for the Republican Party and made it harder to get things done in the Senate.
“I don’t think the president deserves a new senator coming in attacking his character,” Paul said.