In the 2012 presidential campaign, Republican nominee Mitt Romney had victory in his sights after a strong first debate performance against the incumbent, Barack Obama. Instead of continuing to campaign on the offensive, Romney decided to play defense, tamp down his criticism of Obama and finish the race on a positive note.
This lamebrain strategy failed miserably as Romney lost the final two debates, in which he refused to vigorously condemn Obama and his horrible policies. Not surprisingly, Obama won the election as Romney was denied the presidency a second time.
In 2016, Romney no doubt aspired to run again, but he encountered the phenomenon known as Donald Trump. At that point he couldn’t run as a businessman, since Trump was wealthier and more successful, nor could he run as an outsider, since Trump was the real political novice, never having run for office before.
Instead of launching another losing presidential campaign, Romney declared he was not running, and focused his efforts on bashing the GOP frontrunner. He called Trump a “fraud,” and a “phony” and encouraged people to support any other candidate.
When his strategy failed in the party primary elections and Trump won the GOP nomination, Romney encouraged Americans to vote third party in the general election. Romney expressed interest in supporting the Libertarian Party ticket and his campaign rented his donor list to a true gadfly, Evan McMullen, an Independent presidential candidate with no hope of winning.
In the end, he admitted he voted for his wife, Ann, for President. His disgust with Trump was so great that he was willing to tip the presidential election to a corrupt liberal, Hilary Clinton.
Since the President’s victory, Romney changed his tune somewhat, but was still mostly critical. While he did interview for the position of Secretary of State and have dinner with President Trump, he expressed his disapproval on a number of issues, including the response to the riots in Charlottesville, Virginia. In addition, Romney claimed that President Trump was not a good “role model for my grandkids on the basis of his personal style.” Even though the President graciously offered his “full support and endorsement” for Romney’s Senate bid, it has not been reciprocated.
Nevertheless, in recent weeks, Romney’s stance has become more favorable to the President, especially after he decided to run for the United States Senate seat in Utah that is being vacated by the retiring Orrin Hatch. At his “Experts and Enthusiasts” business and political summit on Friday, Romney made some interesting predictions. Not only did he forecast that Trump would “easily” win the GOP nomination again, he also maintained that the President would “solidly” win re-election in 2020. Romney claimed that the “growing economy” and a far-left Democratic Party presidential nominee would help Trump win re-election.
These comments were offered by a Republican Senate candidate who is running against a more conservative challenger, Dr. Mike Kennedy, in Utah’s GOP primary on June 26. Romney realizes that the President has support among Republican voters in Utah and he does not want to alienate the base of the party.
The problem for Romney as he changes his outlook on Donald Trump is his history of negative comments about the President. In reality, he tried much harder to deny the White House to President Trump in 2016 than he did to Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential race.
At 71 years old, he is facing his last chance to remain politically relevant, so he has to beat this GOP opponent and win the U.S. Senate election. Continuing a fight against a President who is popular in his own party is a very dumb idea. Thus, the change of heart for Romney.
It also might help that President Trump has been extremely successful in both economic and foreign policies. This record of accomplishment has forced Romney to admit, “I believe his policies have been by and large a good deal better than I might have expected.”
At least Romney has the good sense to realize the President is producing for the American people. As a candidate, Donald Trump did not claim he was a saint in his personal life, but he did promise to “Make America Great Again!” On that score, President Trump seems to be convincing some of his harshest critics, even a former “Never Trumper” like Mitt.
Jeff Crouere is a native New Orleanian and his award winning program, “Ringside Politics,” airs locally at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and at 10:00 p.m. Sundays on PBS affiliate WLAE-TV, Channel 32, and from 7-11 a.m. weekdays on WGSO 990-AM & www.Wgso.com. He is a political columnist, the author of America’s Last Chance and provides regular commentaries on the Jeff Crouere YouTube channel and on www.JeffCrouere.com. For more information, email him at [email protected]