Monday, December 04, 2017


Politico reports that President Trump is trying to prevent a Mitt Romney Senate run in Utah:
Donald Trump is going all out to persuade seven-term Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch to seek reelection — a push aimed in no small part at keeping the president’s longtime nemesis, Mitt Romney, out of the Senate.

Romney has been preparing to run for Hatch’s seat on the long-held assumption that the 83-year-old would retire. Yet Hatch, the longest-serving Republican senator in history, is now refusing to rule out another campaign — a circumstance Romney’s infuriated inner circle blames squarely on the president.
Trump, we're told, appreciates Hatch's support last year after the Access Hollywood tape was released. Hatch hasalso worked closely with Trump on judicial appointments and the tax bill. On Trump's trip to Utah today, the stated purpose of which is to announce the shrinking of national monuments in Utah, the senator will travel both ways with the president on Air Force One.

Oh, and the Washington Examiner reports that Steve Bannon, alleged hater of entrenched D.C. swamp dwellers, may endorse Hatch, who's been a senator for forty years. (If Hatch wins, he'd be ninety years old at the end of his next term.)

It was reported in October that Hatch intended to retire and that Romney would run if Hatch chose not to. But why is Romney waiting to be granted permission to run?

As New York magazine's Margaret Hartmann notes, an October poll showed that Utahns vastly prefer Romney and want Hatch to retire:
The survey shows that 75 percent of voters said Hatch ... should retire, including 56 percent who said he “definitely should not” run again....

The poll had more bad news for Hatch. It asked voters whom they would vote for if the Senate race were held today, and Hatch finished in a distant third-place tie.

This isn't how elections work in Utah, but when a large number of potential candidates are polled, Romney crushes Hatch, 44%-8%. And an earlier poll showed that Romney would beat Democrat Jenny Wilson 64%-26% in a general election.

So why doesn't Romney just run no matter what? Why is he waiting or Hatch's (and, by extension, Trump's, Bannon's, and Robert and Rebekah Mercer's) permission?

The simplest explanation: because he's Mitt Romney. He was applauded for making one speech denouncing Trump in the spring of 2016, but he wouldn't step up as a third-party candidate, and he gave up on the effort to recruit another high-profile candidate to run. After Trump won, Romney groveled for the secretary of state job he was never going to get. Since then, as Margaret Hartmann notes, "Romney called on Trump to stay in the Paris climate agreement, blasted his response to the violence in Charlottesville, and undermined Trump’s response to the Roy Moore scandal" -- but he also praised Trump's UN General Assembly speech in September.

Romney won't exercise his right as a citizen in a democracy to run against his state's incumbent senator, even though he has an excellent chance of winning -- and if he were to win the Senate seat in the event of a Hatch retirement, he probably wouldn't have the guts to stand up to Trump on anything important, up to and including a Senate vote in an impeachment trial. Sorry, Mitt, you're just a wuss.

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