Mitt Romney is, no doubt, going to be Utah’s next U.S. senator, replacing Sen. Orrin Hatch, who has served for 200 years (or so).
Romney has only two vulnerabilities – his reputation as a flip-flopper, and his relationship with Pres. Trump. Neither will be enough to defeat him.
Regarding vulnerability No. 1, I’ve never met a successful politician who wasn’t a flip-flopper. Times change and circumstances change. Good politicians are flexible enough to accommodate new conditions and situations.
Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were both opposed to same-sex marriage for most of their political careers. But when society turned a page and the gay rights movement was widely embraced, they quickly flipped.
Trump is sticking to his campaign promises better than most presidents, but he demonstrates plenty of flexibility on numerous issues, as has been documented by his opponents.
It doesn’t bother me that Romney, as the Republican governor of a very liberal state with a very liberal legislature, had to take moderate positions to get anything done. The fact that he accomplished as much as he did is a testament to his effectiveness.
Regarding Trump, Romney simply won’t be able to please either the Trump-haters or the Trump-lovers. People who can’t stand Trump want him to disavow and oppose the president on every front. People who like Trump want Romney to fully embrace him, flaws and all.
To be a successful senator, Romney has to walk a balance beam regarding Trump. Romney’s approach is just right, supporting Trump when his policy positions make sense, while preserving the independence to disagree with him on some issues and speak out when Trump displays outrageous behavior.
I believe Romney can work successfully with Trump. It makes no sense for him to join the never-Trumpers who desperately want the president to fail. I hope Romney can help Trump be successful. On the other hand, he ought not be a rubber-stamp for the president.
Romney has the opportunity to truly be a national senator, to have more influence than his freshman status would warrant. He will have a strong voice and will have a national following.
Already, the national media, particularly the Washington Post, are following everything he says and does. The Post covered his recent debate with Mike Kennedy and has done several other stories on his campaign.
However, the Post and other national media clearly want Romney to be Trump’s main antagonist. They often cite Romney’s famous speech when he blasted Trump on moral grounds. The national media will give Romney enormous publicity if they can run to him for an easy anti-Trump quote on most every issue. But they will turn against Romney when he doesn’t fulfil their expectations as Trump’s main adversary, replacing Sens. Jeff Flake and John McCain.
It will be interesting to watch as Romney navigates the Washington power corridors, being pulled in various directions while representing Utah as his first priority.