After months of dull speculation, former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has announced he will be running as a Republican candidate in Utah’s 2018 Senate election. His announcement was accompanied by a stirring video that makes a valiant effort to suck up to the state of Utah, a state Romney spent most of his life not living in.
“On Utah’s Capitol Hill, people treat one another with respect,” Romney—who was a loud Never Trump-er during the 2016 election—says in the video.
According to The Atlantic’s McKay Coppins, however, Romney’s not about to start giving blistering speeches about authoritarianism and unfitness for office. That, evidently, is not a tack that non-retiring Republican politicians are willing to take.
More to the point, the adviser said, Romney is a true believer in the Utah model of governance—and he plans to make it a central theme of his campaign. Rather than define himself as the Republican antidote to Trump, he will champion a brand of Republicanism that he believes could be the antidote to Trumpism. Rather than barnstorm the state with withering condemnations of the president’s character—as he did in 2016, when he denounced Trump as a “phony” and a “fraud”—he will seek to advance a proactive policy vision to contend with Trump-style nationalism.
Romney, Coppins reports, appears “invincible” in the deep-red yet remarkably anti-Trump state, beginning with the forced apology of Utah Republican Chairman Rob Anderson, who was roundly criticized by other state Republicans for a disparaging statement he made about Romney’s candidacy.
Romney’s announcement video also notes that while “Utah has balanced its budgets, Washington is buried in debt,” returning to the outrageously hypocritical siren song of his 2012 campaign. Let’s revisit that for a moment, shall we? From a 2012 report in Rolling Stone:
By making debt the centerpiece of his campaign, Romney was making a calculated bluff of historic dimensions – placing a massive all-in bet on the rank incompetence of the American press corps. The result has been a brilliant comedy: A man makes a $250 million fortune loading up companies with debt and then extracting million-dollar fees from those same companies, in exchange for the generous service of telling them who needs to be fired in order to finance the debt payments he saddled them with in the first place. That same man then runs for president riding an image of children roasting on flames of debt, choosing as his running mate perhaps the only politician in America more pompous and self-righteous on the subject of the evils of borrowed money than the candidate himself. If Romney pulls off this whopper, you’ll have to tip your hat to him: No one in history has ever successfully run for president riding this big of a lie.
And sure enough, he didn’t, with an assist from those infamous “47 percent” and “binders full of women” zingers; meanwhile, his successor in 2016 made Romney’s hypocrisy appear almost quaint. As the Republican party begins fitfully churning out Nazis and nationalists and incompetent hard-right clowns, the fact that Mitt Romney was and remains a monster of Wall Street who wouldn’t release his tax returns seems, at least for now, to have undeservedly faded into the background. Congratulations, Mitt.