Sen.-elect Mitt Romney (R-Utah) caught the ire of many conservatives after he slammed President Donald Trump in an op-ed, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).
In an op-ed to the Washington Post, Romney picked apart Trump’s character and his ability to lead.
“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.”
As IJR reported earlier, Trump responded to Romney’s attack and called on him to “be a team player”:
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
Paul joined the president in questioning Romney’s decision to write the op-ed. He claimed that the incoming senator’s op-ed did nothing but virtue signal:
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
Although Romney did highlight some of Trump’s conservative victories in his op-ed, he likely angered Paul by slamming Trump’s pending withdrawal from Syria. Romney wrote:
The Trump presidency made a deep descent in December. The departures of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, the appointment of senior persons of lesser experience, the abandonment of allies who fight beside us, and the president’s thoughtless claim that America has long been a “sucker” in world affairs all defined his presidency down.
As IJR previously reported, Paul has been one of the president’s largest supporters as far as his new Middle Eastern strategy unfolds.
Paul was not the only elected official to express concern over Romney’s op-ed.
Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.) blasted Romney as a “pathetic loser” and called him out on Twitter:
.@MittRomney hasn’t changed from the pathetic loser that gave us @BarackObama 2.0 in 2012. Wore blue jeans everyday on the trail & each time looked like 1st day ever to wear them. @realDonaldTrump worked hard for Mitt & raised tons of $ for him. Endorsed him twice in ‘12 & ‘18. https://t.co/Hh2huULMKN
— Billy Long (@auctnr1) January 2, 2019
Other Republicans were more subtle in their disagreement with Romney. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) just retweeted a comment from Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, and incoming Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) made a subtle jab by saying she will continue to focus on policy rather than the president’s Twitter feed:
The truth is @MittRomney lacked the ability to save this nation. @realDonaldTrump has saved it. Jealously is a drink best served warm and Romney just proved it. So sad, I wish everyone had the courage @realDonaldTrump had. https://t.co/mbxoTqbSX6
— Brad Parscale (@parscale) January 2, 2019
The American people want us to keep this nation free, prosperous, and secure for our children and grandchildren. That’s what I’ll be focused on as your Senator.https://t.co/d7scD2nuNQ
— Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) January 2, 2019
Although Romney faced several critics, there were a few Republicans who agreed with him, including Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Rep. John Faso (R-N.Y.), and Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.). They all also have in common that they will be leaving public office January 3.
Ultimately, we're on the same team. There are good people on both sides of the aisle. https://t.co/RnJ6tKqJY8
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) January 2, 2019
Mitt Romney captures my concern that the President's rhetoric does not attempt to unite the nation. The country would be better off if everyone — Republican and Democrat — toned down their rhetoric and focused on solving our biggest challenges. https://t.co/Mhw6k4Mi10
— John Faso (@RepJohnFaso) January 2, 2019
nothing to add here…https://t.co/4eEF0P8aCM
— Carlos Curbelo (@CLCurbelo) January 2, 2019
Flake decided not to run for re-election in 2018. Faso and Curbelo were both defeated by their Democratic opponents in November.