President Donald Trump issued a response to Sen.-elect Mitt Romney’s highly critical Op-Ed Wednesday on Twitter and asked the Utah Republican to be a “team player.”
In his disparaging opinion piece, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee said December brought a “deep descent” for the Trump administration.
Romney pointed to the departures of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly as well as what he called the “abandonment of allies” that “defined his presidency down.”
The soon-to-be senator called out what he said was Trump’s biggest failing.
“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.”
Trump’s response, which came in the form of a tweet, was so casual it was almost dismissive.
“Here we go with Mitt Romney, but so fast! Question will be, is he a Flake? I hope not,” Trump tweeted, a reference to outgoing Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, who frequently opposed the president’s agenda.
“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!”
Here we go with Mitt Romney, but so fast! Question will be, is he a Flake? I hope not. 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2019
The president’s comments about his victory and Romney‘s defeat appeared to be a reference to the former Massachusetts governor’s failed presidential bid: Romney was soundly defeated by incumbent Barack Obama in the 2012 election.
That didn’t seem to matter to Romney, whose Op-Ed echoed many of the points he made as one of the leaders of the GOP’s “Never Trump” movement in 2016.
“The world needs American leadership, and it is in America’s interest to provide it,” he wrote. “A world led by authoritarian regimes is a world — and an America — with less prosperity, less freedom, less peace.”
The senator-elect went on to say that he will “support (Trump’s) policies that I believe are in the best interest of the country and my state, and oppose those that are not.”
“I do not intend to comment on every tweet or fault. But I will speak out against significant statements or actions that are divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest or destructive to democratic institutions,” he wrote.
The president wasn’t the only one who called out the longtime GOP politician on Twitter, however.
Actor and outspoken conservative James Woods lumped Romney in with the “biased press and corrupt Deep State” that have attempted to put roadblocks in front of the president.
#PresidentTrump has been besieged by a biased press and a corrupt Deep State from the moment of his inauguration to this very day. If #MittRomney wants the President to unite this great nation, perhaps he himself should stop acting like a liberal divider. https://t.co/Mycq3DpHHx
— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) January 2, 2019
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., called out Romney for wanting to “signal how virtuous he is in comparison to the President.”
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
Flake, however, whom Trump referenced in his rebuke of Romney, called the piece “thoughtful.”
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