Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky came to President Donald Trump’s defense after Sen.-elect Mitt Romney of Utah attacked the chief executive in a scathing Washington Post Op-Ed.
“Like other Big Government Republicans who never liked Reagan, Mitt Romney wants to signal how virtuous he is in comparison to the President,” Paul tweeted Wednesday.
“Well, I’m most concerned and pleased with the actual conservative reform agenda @realDonaldTrump has achieved,” he said.
Like other Big Government Republicans who never liked Reagan, Mitt Romney wants to signal how virtuous he is in comparison to the President. Well, I’m most concerned and pleased with the actual conservative reform agenda @realDonaldTrump has achieved.
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) January 2, 2019
In a Wednesday afternoon conference call with reporters, Paul argued that Romney is “virtue signaling” and was in a “minority position” among Republicans in the Senate by attacking Trump, the Washington Examiner reported.
“It’s a big mistake,” he said, adding, “I just don’t think the president deserves to have a new senator coming in attacking his character.”
In his Op-Ed, Romney wrote that Trump’s “conduct over the past two years, particularly his actions this month, is evidence that the president has not risen to the mantle of the office.”
“A president should demonstrate the essential qualities of honesty and integrity, and elevate the national discourse with comity and mutual respect,” the 2012 GOP presidential nominee added.
“With the nation so divided, resentful and angry, presidential leadership in qualities of character is indispensable,” Romney wrote. “And it is in this province where the incumbent’s shortfall has been most glaring.”
Further, Romney promised to “speak out against significant statements or actions that are divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest or destructive to democratic institutions” made by the president.
The soon-to-be freshman senator’s niece, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel, was not appreciative of her uncle’s swipe at Trump.
On Wednesday, McDaniel tweeted, “POTUS is attacked and obstructed by the MSM media and Democrats 24/7. For an incoming Republican freshman senator to attack @realdonaldtrump as their first act feeds into what the Democrats and media want and is disappointing and unproductive.”
POTUS is attacked and obstructed by the MSM media and Democrats 24/7. For an incoming Republican freshman senator to attack @realdonaldtrump as their first act feeds into what the Democrats and media want and is disappointing and unproductive. https://t.co/ArhI7Bi7bo
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) January 2, 2019
The GOP chairwoman included Trump’s tweet addressing Romney’s piece, in which the president said: “Here we go with Mitt Romney, but so fast! Question will be, is he a Flake?” That was a reference to outgoing Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, who frequently opposed the president’s agenda.
“I hope not,” Trump continued. “Would much prefer that Mitt focus on Border Security and so many other things where he can be helpful. I won big, and he didn’t. He should be happy for all Republicans. Be a TEAM player & WIN!”
Romney, 71, employed similar language in a highly publicized speech in the heat of the 2016 Republican primary during which he claimed “dishonesty is Trump’s hallmark” and labeled him a “phony” and a “fraud.”
The two met after the election and seemed to reach a truce. Trump, in fact, endorsed Romney in his U.S. Senate race, calling him a “worthy successor” to Orrin Hatch, though he also appeared to signal he would rather have had Hatch, a strong supporter, stay around.
Some political watchers have speculated that Romney sought the Senate seat to position himself for a run against Trump in 2020.
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