Mitt Romney kicked off his run to replace Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) Friday. As Romney makes his bid to become a new Never Trump pole in the U.S. Senate, here are some of his most notable forays into politics since losing to Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election.
1. Trump is “A Fraud, a Phony:”
Romney’s most celebrated re-entry to the political seen came with his March 3, 2016 disavowal of then-candidate Donald Trump, who was surging on his way to succeed Romney as the Republican nominee.
“Here’s what I know. Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat,” Romney told Americans from the University of Utah.
The denunciation came just over four years after Trump gave Romney his endorsement for president, but Mitt quickly took to Twitter to explain the apparent disparity:
If Trump had said 4 years ago the things he says today about the KKK, Muslims, Mexicans, disabled, I would NOT have accepted his endorsement
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) March 3, 2016
“Dishonesty is Trump’s hallmark,” he continued in his speech, adding later, “Think of Donald Trump’s personal qualities, the bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third grade theatrics.”
Some polling suggested Romney’s attack may have actually boosted Trump’s campaign.
2. …But he Still Comes Knocking for Secretary of State:
Despite Romney’s thorough and unrestrained dismissal of Donald Trump as a leader, after he did what Romney could not and secured the White House for the Republican Party, Mitt still came calling for a job. He met with president-elect Trump several times and talk of an “apology” touched the headlines.
“There are conversations going on whether Mitt Romney has to issue some kind of public apology” to Trump, Fox News reported.
Some in the conservative press even speculated Romney was high on the shortlist.
The gesture apparently did not sway Trump, who then chose Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson for the job.
3. Romney Endorses Antifa
In the aftermath of the violence-strewn Charlottesville, Virginia “Unite the Right” rally in August, 2017, Romney reacted indignantly to President Trump’s assertion that “both sides” – meaning left-wing “counter-protesters,” including “Anti-Fascist” Antifa groups, in addition to the right-wing marchers that included a number Nazi and white nationalist groups – bore some responsibility for the day’s tragic outcome.
Romney attacked Trump, claiming that no equivalency could be drawn, and described Antifa only as opposing “racism and bigotry.”
No, not the same. One side is racist, bigoted, Nazi. The other opposes racism and bigotry. Morally different universes.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) August 16, 2017
In a Facebook post, Romney doubled-down, demanding Trump reverse himself and lionizing Antifa, an unashamedly violent group who have attacked a wide variety of people who could not – by any stretch – be described as “Nazis,” as merely citizens “outraged to see fools parading the Nazi flag, Nazi armband and Nazi salute.” He wrote:
He should address the American people, acknowledge that he was wrong, apologize. State forcefully and unequivocally that racists are 100% to blame for the murder and violence in Charlottesville. Testify that there is no conceivable comparison or moral equivalency between the Nazis–who brutally murdered millions of Jews and who hundreds of thousands of Americans gave their lives to defeat–and the counter-protestors who were outraged to see fools parading the Nazi flag, Nazi armband and Nazi salute.
An independent report by the the law firm Hutton and Williams confirmed President Trump’s assessment at the time was largely accurate. Left-wing groups did initiate much of the violence at the rally. Charlottesville’s police chief, alleged to have told his officers to “let them fight” in the hope of declaring the rally unlawful as quickly as possible, resigned just after the report’s release.
4. Romney Attacks Trump for Not Releasing Tax Returns…After Trump Defended Him From Same Attack
During the 2012 presidential election, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid repeatedly called out candidate Mitt Romney for not releasing his tax returns, heavily suggesting the wealthy Romney paid no taxes whatsoever.
Among Romney’s defenders was Donald Trump, then a private citizen. Trump took Reid to task for his claim that Romney paid no taxes, telling Fox News:
And I’ve known Harry and I like Harry. But I think it’s a statement that he probably wished he didn’t make. I don’t think there was a source. A lot of people don’t think there was a source. If there was a source, it’s probably not allowed and it’s probably not even legal. I mean, who would be able to do that? Who would be allowed to do that? I don’t think there is a source.
Romney did eventually release his tax returns. He did pay taxes – lots of taxes. But, along with his infamous “47 percent” remark, the controversy did lasting damage to his campaign. Reid later admitted he knew Romney paid taxes, but that he was not sorry, had no regrets, and, as Reid put it, “Romney didn’t win, did he?”
Four years later, the Democrats employed the same tactic against Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, demanding he release his tax returns and implying they contained unknown horrors.
In 2016, Romney did not return Trump’s favor and defend him. He did not even remain silent and let events take their course. Instead, he amplified the Democrats’ narrative. “[F]rankly the voters have a right to see those tax returns before they decide who our nominee ought to be,” he told Fox News, “I think we have good reason to believe that there’s a bombshell in Donald Trump’s taxes.”
5. Romney Joins Obama in Calling for Confederate Flag to Come Down
“Take down the Confederate flag at the SC Capitol. To many, it is a symbol of racial hatred. Remove it now to honor Charleston victims,” Romney tweeted in the aftermath of North Charleston, South Carolina’s 2015 horrific mass murder in an historic black church, as calls abounded to remove the Confederate battle flag from public life.
South Carolina, the first state to secede from the Union, flew the Confederate flag for decades from its state capitol dome. Under pressure from the left, it moved the flag to a smaller memorial to the state’s more than 16,000 war dead in 2000. The 2015 church killer, 21-year old racist Dylann Roof – now sentenced to die – had an affinity for the Confederate flag, as he did for many others of tenuous relation to his murderous rampage.
Significant majorities at the time disagreed with Romney’s “symbol of racial hatred” assessment. According to CNN/ORC polling just after the racially-motivated North Charleston murders, 57 percent of Americans saw the flag as a symbol of “southern pride” compared to 33 percent who saw it as symbolizing “racism.”
Nevertheless, the bipartisan opposition of then-President Obama, Mitt Romney, and then-South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley ensured the flag came down. More accurately, the South Carolina Senate ratified the flag’s illegal removal by an “activist” who was arrested a week earlier storming the war memorial and stealing the flag.
The left’s thirst for excising our “racist” history did not, as Mitt Romney might have believed, end with the flag. The South Carolina flag surrender began a sustained campaign – that has now raged for more than two years – to destroy the monuments, symbols, and the memory of aspects of history displeasing to the left. What began with hated Confederates quickly escalated to calls to remove monuments to other slave holders, like Presidents Andrew Jackson, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson.
6. Betraying Pro-Enforcement Campaign, Romney Embraces Amnesty:
After running on a relatively strong immigration platform emphasizing cutting off jobs and benefits so illegal aliens “self-deport” in the 2012 primary, Romney went soft in the general, hinting at a limited amnesty.
Despite his eventual realization that amnesty helped hand the the election to the Democrats, he was unrepentant. “I do believe that those who come here illegally ought to have an opportunity to get in line with everybody else,” Romney told the Washington Times in 2013. “I don’t think those who come here illegally should jump to the front of the line or be given a special deal, be rewarded for coming here illegally, but I think they should have a chance, just like anybody else, to get in line and to become a citizen if they would like to do so.”
In 2014, Romney found it “unhealthy” that Congress had not yet passed amnesty.
Even in his Friday Senate announcement, there was more than a hint Romney would consider more amnesties as a Senator. “Utah welcomes legal immigrants from around the world. Washington sends immigrants a message of exclusion,” he said, apparently taking a not-so-subtle jab at President Trump and the immigration hardliners trying to stave off another “Gang of Eight” level amnesty push.
7. Racking Up the Never Trump Nods:
If anyone dares doubt Romney’s Never Trump “movement” bone fides, he will have a strong cadre of the small group’s leaders behind him.
In addition to Evan McMullin, who lost to Trump by 18 points in Utah after promising to spoil the Republican nominee’s chances there, and fellow failed big-money presidential hopeful Jeb! Bush, Romney may have secured the backing of his old donor and Fusion GPS opposition research funder Paul Singer, who showed his support by tweeting an image of Romney drawn as an oiled and well-muscled mythical centaur.