It’s a day that ends in “y,” so Mitt Romney is running for office again. He’ll be running for Senate, not in Massachusetts, where he invented Obamacare as governor after having lost a Senate campaign in which he ran as a Republican who opposed the Reagan administration. He isn’t even running in New Hampshire, where he moved prior to the 2012 Republican presidential primaries. Instead, Romney will seek election to the United States from Utah, where he attended college in the 1960s and has lived since six weeks ago.
Romney kicked off his campaign with a flaccid video replete with political platitudes and bizarre references to “our state” and “our can-do pioneering spirit” despite Romney’s having lived virtually the entirety of his life outside the state in places like Michigan and Massachusetts. When Romney isn’t wasting syllables on meaningless pandering such as “we’re known as a people who serve, who care,” he’s attacking President Donald Trump for enforcing the rule of law. In one particularly jarring moment, Romney asserts, “Utah welcomes legal immigrants from around the world; Washington sends immigrants a message of exclusion.” Perhaps Romney is unaware that immigrants constitute a larger percentage of the U.S. population than any time since the 1890s, and President Trump is deporting illegal aliens at a slower pace than did Barack Obama.
Or perhaps Romney simply opposes President Trump’s conservative policy initiatives, which include tax reform, deregulation, protecting free political speech, abandoning feckless and intrusive international environmental treaties, the appointment of originalist justices to the judiciary and the repeal of Obamacare. After all, during his political career in Massachusetts Romney expanded taxes and fees, opposed tax relief, campaigned on gutting constitutional protections of political speech, subsidized hybrid automobiles, and invented Obamacare. He later flipped his position on many of these issues, but perhaps he’s flipped again as President Trump has steamrolled through Washington’s leftist bureaucracy.
All politicians change their mind from time to time, although the ways in which they change their minds are telling. President Trump said all sorts of strange things on television throughout the 2000s, but he has governed as a conservative. Mitt Romney has said all sorts of conservative things on television throughout the 2000s, but he governed as a squish. Since that time, Romney’s view of Donald Trump seems also to have shifted.
In 2016, as Donald Trump barreled along to the Republican Party nomination for president, Mitt Romney called him “a phony” and “a fraud.” In a blistering speech, he said, “But you say, wait, wait, wait, isn’t he a huge business success? Doesn’t he know what he’s talking about? No, he isn’t and no he doesn’t. … A business genius he is not..” Yet four years earlier, when Mitt Romney sought Donald Trump’s endorsement for his own presidential campaign, he professed, “Being in Donald Trump’s magnificent hotel and having his endorsement is a delight, and I’m so pleased and honored to have his endorsement.” Romney’s praise didn't end there. He gushed, “Donald Trump has shown an extraordinary ability to know how our economy works, to create jobs for the American people. … I spent my life in the private sector —not quite as successful as [Donald Trump].” A phony and a fraud, eh?
Well here we go again: a new office, a new state, a new campaign, probably a new set of policy positions, and the same old Mitt Romney reciting tired platitudes to cheesy music in a video that could have been produced during the Carter administration. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. Unfortunately, it seems Mitt Romney hasn’t learned a thing, and his election will mean another opponent in the Senate of what has thus far been the most conservative presidential administration since Ronald Reagan. Conventional wisdom holds Romney’s victory a fait accompli. Perhaps Romney will win and flip and support this administration’s conservative agenda. Or perhaps a conservative Republican such as Boyd Matheson will mount a successful challenger campaign. The 2016 election reminded us that conventional wisdom can be fantastically wrong. Both the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections taught that even favored, well-funded conventional candidates can lose.