The chairman of the Conservative Political Action Conference raised eyebrows over the weekend when he remarked that he would fear for Senator Mitt Romney’s “physical safety” if he attended the conference.
“This year, I would actually be afraid for his physical safety, people are so mad at him,” CPAC chairman Matt Schlapp told Greta Van Susteren on Fox News’s Full Court Press.
Romney, a Utah Republican, angered members of his party earlier this month when he became the sole Republican to vote to convict President Trump in his impeachment trial.
“We won’t credential him as a conservative,” Schlapp said Sunday of Romney’s potential presence at CPAC. “I suppose if he wants to come as a non-conservative and debate an issue with us, maybe in the future we would have him come.”
For some critics, Schlapp’s remarks edged too close to a threat.
“I have not met a more honorable person than Mitt Romney,” said Senator Joe Manchin, one of the Senate’s most moderate Democrats. “It’s hard to believe that we have stooped this low.”
Schlapp denied his comments contained any threatening intention, saying he has “no beef” with Romney’s family and hopes they “have happy healthy lives away from politics.”
“I wish Gov Romney no harm I just want him to find a new hobby away from destroying GOP momentum,” the conference head wrote in a tweet.
The newfound distaste of many conservatives and Republicans for Romney is a far cry from just eight years ago when the party elected him as its standard-bearer to take on President Barack Obama in the presidential election.
Romney said his vote in favor of removing Trump from office was based on his integrity and his faith.
“I’m aware that there are people in my party and in my own state who will strenuously disapprove of my decision and in some quarters I will be vehemently denounced,” Romney said during his Senate floor speech explaining his vote. “Does anyone seriously believe that I would consent to these consequences other than from an inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded of me?”
Schlapp, however, slammed Romney as a disloyal political opportunist.
“He said he was going to be an extreme conservative, that he was the most conservative guy in the world, and when he came to CPAC, after 2012, he doesn’t want to have anything to do with us,” Schlapp said.