For all we know, the Utah Republicans who voted to put Mitt Romney in the Senate are pleased as punch with their hometown hero and his willingness to stand up to President Donald Trump. Maybe they’re chomping at the bit, hoping Romney will gather up a posse of Capitol Hill Republicans (including, no doubt, Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski) and gather the 20-something GOP votes it would take to finalize impeachment in the Senate. Perhaps they’re secretly hoping that Romney is biding his time, just waiting to spring his trap and jump into the 2020 primaries to take Trump out himself.
But if that’s the case, Utah Republicans are far from the norm. A new poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal shows that Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee in the failed race against Barack Obama, is viewed favorably by only 18% of the country.
A scant 2% of Americans view Romney with “very positive” feelings, while another 16% are “somewhat positive” about the former Massachusetts governor. 37% of Americans are “neutral” on Romney, 19% are “somewhat negative” and 19% are “very negative.”
We’re assuming that the 2% “very positive” figure includes Romney’s immediate family and perhaps Pierre Delecto.
Romney, like a couple of Republicans on Capitol Hill before him, seems to see it as his personal responsibility to provide a balance against the president. He remains, to this day, one of the few Republicans to criticize Trump for the call to Ukraine that now forms the basis of the Democrats’ impeachment effort.
“By all appearances,” he tweeted last month, “the President’s brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is wrong and appalling.”
This posture, combined with the Utah senator’s global name recognition, has some hoping that he’ll be the guy to deliver the party from the grip of Trumpism.
“Mitt Romney to the Rescue?” one hopeful headline read on NeverTrump website, The Bulwark.
“The senator is best positioned to pry the Republican Party from President Trump’s hands,” wrote another hand-wringing NeverTrump Republican in The Atlantic.
The problem, of course, are those pesky poll numbers above. Trade Trump for Mitt Romney, and you may still have a Republican Party, but you won’t have much of one. You’ll have the GOP that was getting its butt kicked by Obama’s Democratic machine. The GOP that felt dated, out-of-touch, and completely removed from the will of the people. The one that people like Romney, Bill Kristol, Jeff Flake, and Bob Corker apparently believe can still make a comeback. And who knows? Maybe in a state like Utah, it can.
But nationally? Sorry, Pierre, but that ship has sailed.