Commentary: Bashing Trump doesn’t help Romney’s re-election chances

On Halloween, Sen. Mitt Romney published an excellent opinion column in the Washington Post arguing that Democrats would be making a grave mistake if they eliminate the filibuster. It was well-written and persuasive.

Romney especially emphasized that such a move might very well backfire on the Democrats if Republicans regain power in Washington in the next two elections.

However, Romney started the column by criticizing Donald Trump and his followers (without using Trump’s name) for all sorts of iniquities over the last several years, saying they have demeaned and maligned foundational American institutions.

With that introduction to an otherwise very credible column, Romney immediately lost most of the Republican audience and added to his anti-Trump reputation.

Liberals, the traditional news media and never-Trump Republicans might love Romney because he takes every opportunity to insult Trump. And, of course, Trump responds in like manner, which Romney apparently accepts as a badge of honor.

But Republican voters back home in Utah aren’t so enamored with Romney’s blood feud with Trump. It’s one reason he’s doing poorly in the polls, especially among Republican voters.

For the most part, Romney is a reliable conservative, or at least he’s moderately conservative. He’s been stalwart in his opposition to the Democrats’ big government, high taxes approach to governance. (With perhaps the exception of the bi-partisan infrastructure bill, which a lot of conservatives don’t like.)     

Romney’s weakness with Utah Republican voters is entirely self-inflicted. He just can’t seem to help himself when it comes to criticizing Trump. Politically, he would do far better to follow the lead of many mainstream Republicans who don’t like Trump — ignore him. Deliberately antagonizing Trump only hurts. 

As things currently stand, unless Romney can convince an enormous number of Democrats and independents to register and vote in the GOP primary election in 2024, he may be a one-term senator.

Romney needs to remember that most Utah Republicans have a complicated relationship with Trump. Most don’t like Trump’s obnoxious character or his volatile temperament. But they liked a lot of his policies and the success of the country when he was president. They felt he was treated unfairly by the mainstream news media and they thought the Russian probe was biased and dishonest, among many other things. They dislike the nation’s Democratic leaders and their left-wing policies even more than they dislike Trump.

Most Utahns didn’t support impeachment, and they disagreed with Romney trying to drive Trump out of office.

I have written many times that Trump’s character flaws are myriad and I especially oppose his ridiculous crusade to overturn the 2020 election, now a full year after his defeat. I also would hate to see Trump run for president again in 2024. I think he would lose and drag Republicans down with him.

But I can write anything I want about Trump and have no concern about the consequences. I’m not running for office.

But Romney may well want to seek another term in the Senate. Bashing Trump isn’t the way to do it.

It’s actually quite simple. Just ignore Trump. Don’t rise to the bait. Don’t say anything good or bad. Trump doesn’t care about criticism or negative publicity. He just wants the limelight. He just wants to dominate the news cycle.

The only way to move past Trump is to ignore him. So give him the silent treatment.