With Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) leaving the United States Senate, President Donald Trump will say goodbye to two of his most vocal Republican critics in Washington. But Senator-elect Mitt Romney (R-Utah) seems intent on filling that void with a scathing Washington Post op-ed.
“It is well known that Donald Trump was not my choice for the Republican presidential nomination,” Romney wrote. “After he became the nominee, I hoped his campaign would refrain from resentment and name-calling. It did not.”
Romney lamented the president’s seemingly increasingly erratic and unpredictable behavior over the past month and sharply critiqued how Trump has behaved on the world stage. The incoming senator also said that he will continue to speak out against “significant statements or actions that are divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest or destructive to democratic institutions.”
But Romney also makes clear that he won’t be opposing Trump’s entire policy agenda. On issues that he views as “in the best interest of the country” and Utah, Romney says he intends to offer his support. That’s not exactly surprising, and in line with what the voters in Utah should expect of their elected representative, but it does raise the question of whether Romney will differ at all from Corker and Flake to offer any significant check on the president other than strongly worded statements.
After announcing their intention to retire, both Flake and Corker frequently voiced their displeasure with Trump while still often voting to advance the president’s policy agenda. According to FiveThirtyEight’s “Trump Score” metric, a measurement of how frequently member’s of Congress go along with Trump’s policies, Flake and Corker received an 81.3 percent and an 84 percent respectively.
While one can expect a Republican senator to vote to support mainstream Republican policies, Flake and Corker did little else to stand up to Trump outside of lobbing critical tweets and statements in the direction of the White House.
Until Romney takes concrete action to defy the president he believes is damaging the nation’s standing on the global stage, he’s likely to see plenty of negative comparisons to Flake and Corker coming from both sides of the aisle. And one of the critics making the comparison is sitting in the Oval Office.
“Here we go with Mitt Romney, but so fast!” President Trump tweeted on Wednesday. “Question will be, is he a Flake?”
Here we go with Mitt Romney, but so fast! Question will be, is he a Flake? I hope not. Would much prefer that Mitt focus on Border Security and so many other things where he can be helpful. I won big, and he didn’t. He should be happy for all Republicans. Be a TEAM player & WIN!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2019
Romney will be sworn into the United States Senate on Thursday. From there, we’ll have to wait and see just what he plans to do to keep Trump in check
Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR.