Senator-elect Mitt Romney wrote a scathing op-ed about President Donald Trump, and it didn’t take long for the president to fire back.
Romney was recently elected in Utah to replace outgoing Senator Orinn Hatch (R-Utah). Although he won’t officially take office until Thursday, he didn’t make a subtle entrance into Washington.
In an op-ed to the Washington Post, Romney claimed Trump’s character “falls short” of what Americans need in their leadership.
He pointed to the recent controversies in the Trump administration. In the last few weeks of December, Trump announced major changes to the strategy in the Middle East, lost several members of his administration, including Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Chief of Staff John Kelly, and played a role in forcing the government into a partial shutdown over a dispute on border security funding.
Romney claimed this all highlighted “a deep descent” for the Trump presidency.
“[Trump’s] conduct over the past two years, particularly his actions this month, is evidence that the president has not risen to the mantle of the office,” Romney wrote.
Romney did manage to compliment the president for a few of his decision, including his efforts to renegotiate trade with China, leading the call for prison reform, and the tax cuts, but the compliments ended there.
“With the nation so divided, resentful and angry, presidential leadership in qualities of character is indispensable. And it is in this province where the incumbent’s shortfall has been most glaring,” wrote Romney.
He specifically called out the president’s use of Twitter and his many controversial tweets, writing:
“I do not intend to comment on every tweet or fault. But I will speak out against significant statements or actions that are divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest or destructive to democratic institutions.”
Unsurprisingly, this op-ed earned Romney a tweet of his own. The president was not happy with Romney’s choice to enter office with an op-ed questioning his character. He took to Twitter to call Romney out.
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
Trump compared Romney to outgoing Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who has been one of Trump’s most vocal Republican critics. Flake has also been on the receiving end of many of Trump’s tweets for his refusal to vote with the GOP on many issues.
Great to see that Dr. Kelli Ward is running against Flake Jeff Flake, who is WEAK on borders, crime and a non-factor in Senate. He's toxic!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 17, 2017
Phoenix crowd last night was amazing – a packed house. I love the Great State of Arizona. Not a fan of Jeff Flake, weak on crime & border!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2017
How could Jeff Flake, who is setting record low polling numbers in Arizona and was therefore humiliatingly forced out of his own Senate seat without even a fight (and who doesn’t have a clue), think about running for office, even a lower one, again? Let’s face it, he’s a Flake!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 7, 2018
As Trump noted in his tweets, Flake didn’t run for re-election and his seat was picked up by Democrat Kyrsten Sinema. Shortly after he decided not to run for his seat, rumors started to swirl that he may be considering a run against Trump in 2020.
As IJR recently reported, Flake hasn’t said if he would run in 2020, but he did tell CNN, “Somebody does need to challenge the president.”