When Sen. Mitt Romney goes to his first Republican Conference meeting this week, he is likely to get an awkward reception from many of his fellow Republican senators, Politico reported on Tuesday.
Some of his colleagues were put off by Romney’s scathing criticism of President Donald Trump in a Washington Post column before the Utah senator even took office.
In the column, Romney said Trump lacks the character to be in the Oval Office and has not “risen to the mantle” of the presidency.
Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who is running for reelection as a Trump ally, told Politico that “focusing on our political opponents that are trying to annihilate us and embarrass the president is probably a more productive focus, rather than just criticize what the president is, how he does things.”
Some Senate Republicans might admit among close friends that they find the president’s rhetoric and erratic actions troubling, but with the departure of Sens. Bob Corker and Jeff Flake, there’s no one eager to join Romney’s critique.
“The timing was kind of curious,” said new Senate Majority Whip John Thune, who said Romney’s stature as a former GOP presidential nominee gives everything he says extra weight. “I wouldn’t have advised him to do it right now.”
Freshman Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota said he hasn’t “talked to anybody that’s encouraged by” Romney’s approach.
Romney told CNN that he did not fear political retribution for his stance.
“If people come to Washington with the expressed hope of staying in the job forever, they’re making a huge mistake,” the senator stressed.
Despite Romney’s criticism, there’s no indication he will confront Trump in the Senate, where he agrees with the president on most of the major issues.
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