Yesterday, incoming Republican Senator Mitt Romney published an Op-Ed in The Washington Post in which he took direct aim at the leader of his party, criticizing Trump’s character or more accurately his lack thereof.
In the piece, Romney points to what he calls a “deep descent” for Trump during the month of December. While it’s not the first time that the former GOP presidential nominee has gone after Trump, the timing is noteworthy. As he prepares to assume his duties as a senator for the state of Utah, Romney is sending a signal that he won’t be simply falling in line behind the president. Whether or not he lives up this promise and takes the kind of substantive action that his party colleagues have failed to affect for two years remains to be seen.
Now, Trump has responded to the Op-ED in somewhat surprising fashion. He took to Twitter (hardly a surprising choice for him) but rather than the usual frothing vitriol he spews at all those who have wronged him, he struck an almost conciliatory tone.
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He said that he hopes Romney doesn’t turn out to be like outgoing Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who has repeatedly criticized Trump without taking any kind of meaningful stance against him. Trump voiced his wish that Romney will work with the rest of the Republican Party and support Trump’s “Border Security,” which of course just means that he hopes the senator will help him get funding for his idiotic wall.
Since it’s Trump, he couldn’t resist taking a least a small shot at Romney and compared his own successful presidential bid to Romney’s failed campaign, saying that “I won big, and he didn’t.” He ended the tweet with a call for unity and for Romney to embrace shameless partisanship.
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 fact that Trump chose to offer an olive branch, even one so twisted as this, might indicate a realization on his part that the political landscape is shifting. Trump’s administration is falling apart at the seams and following the departure of Secretary of Defense James Mattis, confidence in the president is almost nonexistent.
If Robert Mueller’s investigation proves as damning as some suspect, impeachment might, at last, be on the table. If and when that happens, Trump will need every single Republican to close ranks around him if he has any chance of surviving. Perhaps his reluctance to go scorched earth on Romney means Trump is finally recognizing his own precarious position.