A near majority of Republicans do not have a favorable view of freshman Senator Willard “Mitt” Romney (R-UT), according to a PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll released on Thursday.
The poll, conducted January 10-13, found 48% of “Republicans and conservative-leaning” have an “unfavorable” view Romney. Just 29% view Romney favorably while another 23% are “unsure” or “never heard” of him.
Never Trumpers like Bill Kristol have said Romney is now the “leader of the Republican Resistance to” President Donald Trump, and the PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll again shows how unpopular of a label that is among Republicans.
For now at least Mitt Romney has become the leader of the Republican Resistance to Trump.
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) January 2, 2019
After Romney wrote a Washington Post op-ed before the first day of the new Congress that slammed Trump’s character and declared that Trump has “not risen to the mantle of the office,” Kristol said that “Romney’s op-ed is a shot across the bow” and added that “shots across the bow are often followed by real boarding parties.”
Kristol even declared that Trump’s dominance over the Republican Party can no longer be taken for granted because Romney is “the leader of the Republican Resistance to Trump.”
“Who knows what 2019 will bring in terms of Trump, Mueller, Congress or the world? But I do think the Romney op-ed confirms what we’ve seen hints of over the last two months: Trump’s dominance over the GOP, pretty complete until now, can no longer be taken for granted,” Kristol tweeted then. “For now at least Mitt Romney has become the leader of the Republican Resistance to Trump.”
Kristol also told the Washington Post that Romney’s op-ed gives Never Trump donors “permission” to consider finding a primary challenger in 2020. According to the Post, “Romney’s friends and leading anti-Trump conservatives were glad to see him herald his arrival in Washington by writing a cutting op-ed,” which was “taken as a gesture of solidarity at a time of mounting anxiety among establishment Republicans.”
“It gives permission for people to consider things and discuss things that were almost taboo before this, in terms of a challenger to Trump,” Kristol told the outlet. “It’s a permission slip to have a real conversation about 2020.”
Last year, Kristol, who said that the “task in 2020” will be to oust Trump and suggested that Romney should primary the president, went to the New York Times to reveal that he had started informal conversations with Never-Trumpers to create a “Committee Not to Renominate the President.”