Senator-elect Mitt Romney denied that he plans to run against President Trump in 2020 Wednesday, amid rumors of a campaign sparked by a Washington Post piece in which Romney blasted Trump’s leadership.
“I acknowledge the president was successful. And I was not,” Romney, the newly elected senator from Utah, told CNN. “He did something I couldn’t do. He won. And I recognize that and appreciate that. But no, I’m not running again. And we’ll see whether someone else does in a Republican primary or not. But time will tell.”
The Republican party’s 2012 nominee for president penned a scathing op-ed for the Post Wednesday in which he attacked Trump’s character and said “the president has not risen to the mantle of the office.”
“With the nation so divided, resentful and angry, presidential leadership in qualities of character is indispensable,” Romney wrote. “And it is in this province where the incumbent’s shortfall has been most glaring.” Romney did add his approval of some the Trump administration’s policies, including the GOP’s major tax-reform package, the confirmation of conservative judges, the recently passed criminal-justice-reform bill, and the president’s tough stance toward China on trade.
Trump responded by asking Romney to “be a team player” and focus on the issues instead.
“Would much prefer that Mitt focus on Border Security and so many other things where he can be helpful,” Trump wrote in a tweet later Wednesday. “I won big, and he didn’t. He should be happy for all Republicans. Be a TEAM player & WIN!”
Romney was a heavy critic of Trump during the 2016 campaign, but the two have since managed to largely put their differences aside, at least in public. Trump even endorsed Romney’s bid to replace retiring Republican senator Orrin Hatch last year.
“I think it’s early to make that decision and I want to see what the alternatives are,” Romney said about supporting Trump’s reelection campaign.