'Mitt Romney Republican' Is New GOP Insult

Candidates in the Trump camp are deploying it to criticize their opponents
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 26, 2022 9:35 AM CDT
A New GOP Attack Line: 'Mitt Romney Republican'
Utah Sen. Mitt Romney.   (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

Mitt Romney isn't up for reelection this year. But Trump-aligned Republicans hostile toward the Utah senator have made his name a recurring theme in this year's primaries, using him as a foil and derisively branding their rivals “Mitt Romney Republicans," per the AP. Republicans have used the concept to frame their primary opponents as enemies of the Trump-era GOP in southeast Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The anti-tax group Club For Growth, among the most active super PACs in this year's primaries, used “Mitt Romney Republican” as the central premise of an attack ad in North Carolina's Senate primary.

But nowhere are references to Romney Republicanism as common as they are in Utah. Despite his popularity with many residents here, candidates are repeatedly deploying “Mitt Romney Republican” as a campaign trail attack in the lead-up to Tuesday’s Republican primary. “There are two different wings in the Republican Party,” Chris Herrod, a former state lawmaker running in suburban Utah’s 3rd Congressional District, said in a debate last month. “If you’re more aligned with Mitt Romney and Spencer Cox,” he added, referring to Utah’s governor, “then I’m probably not your guy.”

The fact that Romney's brand has become potent attack fodder reflects how singular his position is in US politics: He's the only senator with the nationwide name recognition that comes from being a presidential nominee and the only Republican who voted to impeach former President Trump twice. "It’s kind of a puzzlement, actually,” said Becky Edwards, an anti-Trump Republican running in Utah's Senate primary. Herrod explains his own rationale for deploying the anti-Romney sentiment: “In the midst of a campaign ... I just put it in terms I thought people would understand,” he said.

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Whether it will work is another question. Jason Perry, director of University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics, said the label “Mitt Romney Republican” may appeal to some Republican primary voters, but given Romney’s popularity, it likely won’t fly in Utah, he said. “They’re appealing to a segment of the Republican Party but probably do not have the numbers on that far-right side to be successful,” Perry said. (More Mitt Romney stories.)

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