Mitt Romney Won’t Endorse Anyone In 2020

In a rather obvious rebuke aimed at President Trump, Mitt Romney said this week that he will not endorse anyone for President in 2020.

Utah Senator Mitt Romney is saying that he has no plan to endorse anyone in the 2020 Republican primary or in the General Election, a good indication that he has not changed his opinion about President Trump since coming to Washington:

Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah said Thursday that he’s planning to withhold his endorsement in the 2020 race both in the primary and in the general election, underscoring the uneasy relationship between the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee and the leader of his party.”I’m not planning on endorsing in the presidential race,” Romney, who has periodically sparred with Trump, told CNN in the Capitol. “At this stage, I’m not planning on endorsing in the primary or in the general.”Romney’s statement adds more certainty about his plans in the presidential race after previously signaling he was unlikely to endorse a candidate in the 2020 elections. The decision by a party’s previous nominee to avoid backing a sitting president is yet another norm-breaking episode in Trump’s tumultuous time atop the Republican Party.

Romney is a friend of one of Trump’s primary challengers, Bill Weld, who served as Massachusetts governor before Romney’s term in office. In an interview in April, Romney called Weld a “superb governor” but declined to say if he would get behind the long-shot candidate.

On Thursday, Romney told CNN that he has concerns with the move by several states to cancel their primary contests in a bid to help Trump as he faces challenges from Weld, former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh and former South Carolina congressman and Gov. Mark Sanford.

“I would far prefer having an open primary, caucus, convention process … where people can be heard,” said Romney, who reiterated that he’s not running himself.

Romney was an outspoken critic of Trump’s in the 2016 campaign, but flirted with the notion of becoming his secretary of state before the President chose Rex Tillerson for the job at the beginning of his administration. On the eve of starting his job as a freshman Utah senator, Romney wrote an opinion piece bashing Trump’s actions and questioning his character, saying he had “not risen to the mantle of the office.” And after the Mueller report came out,

Romney offered perhaps the toughest criticism of any Republican lawmaker, saying he was “sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest office of the land, including the President.”Yet Romney only periodically spars with Trump, often voting to back the President’s nominees, supporting his policies and shying away from criticizing even some of the more controversial Trump tweets.

Although Romney actively sought and accepted Trump’s endorsement during the race for the 2012 Republican nomination, which Romney did not renounce even when Trump ventured back into birtherism, the favor was not returned in 2016. Instead, it was widely reported early in the 2016 race that Romney was strongly opposed to Trump, and that he at least flirted with the idea of entering the race at the last minute in what likely would have been a futile effort. Ultimately, of course, that did not happen, although Romney did deliver a strongly-worded attack on Trump in March 2016 that has basically set the tone for the relationship between the two men going forward. Romney also delivered a strong attack against Trump shortly after being elected to the Senate last year.

Unlike most national Republicans who ultimately fell in line behind Trump, Romney did not endorse Trump in 2016 and made it clear that he would not vote for him either. Additionally, since becoming a Senator Romney has been one among a very small number of Republican legislators willing to speak out against Administration policy, especially on international trade and foreign policy, as well as the President’s increasingly divisive rhetoric. Taking all this into account, the fact that Romney is going to sit 2020 out rather than endorsing or campaigning wit the President.

All that being said, it’s unclear what impact this may have. As I’ve said repeatedly, Trump’s support among Republicans is quite high and likely to stay that way through the election. It’s possible, of course, that it could have an impact in Romney’s home state of Utah, where Trump received less than 50% of the vote in 2016, but even there it is unlikely that Trump would actually lose a state that has gone for the Republican nominee in every Presidential election since 1968. That being said, it’s good to see someone in the GOP standing up against Trump.

FILED UNDER: 2020 Election, Congress, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Kit says:

    Not supporting anyone constitutes standing up to Trump? [insert rolling eyes emoji]

  2. DrDaveT says:

    Romney also announced that he will not promote either shingles or the shingles vaccine.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kit: Beat me to it.

  4. Scott F. says:

    It’s just shy of calling for his impeachment – a withering rebuke really.

  5. Kathy says:


    It’s what passes for it, now that the GOP has thoroughly embraced moral cowardice as its overarching principle.

  6. PJ says:

    Brave Sir Romney.

  7. gVOR08 says:

    All that being said, it’s unclear what impact this may have. …That being said, it’s good to see someone in the GOP standing up against Trump.

    Kinda, sorta, almost.

    But I guess it’s the best we can expect. What’s the phrase Republicans like to use, “The soft bigotry of low expectations.”

  8. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    I’m not sure why this is even a story. Does anybody really care what Romney thinks? Don’t get me wrong, it set up a couple of pretty clever jokes, but come on, who pays a reporter to go out to cover this? Maybe an intern, but only an unpaid one with no transportation allowance.

  9. Gustopher says:

    Has his disapproval translated into votes?

    Otherwise, I assume he embraces everything about Trump other than Trump’s style.

    It’s like someone complaining about the “grab them by the pussy” comment because of the crude language.

  10. Jax says:

    Stay tuned for Twitter attack from President Thinnest of Skins when he finds out he won’t get a Romney endorsement. (I’m eye-rolling faster than my 15 year old daughter, at this point, and that’s saying something 😉 )

    Should we start a betting pool on which adjectives he chooses to use to describe “loser”?

  11. al Ameda says:

    Mitt is just another Republican weather vane.

    He doesn’t like Trump, not many people do. So he can always talk tough, but when the heat is on he can usually be counted on the do what Trump wants any way. A few others were were good at this: Jeff Flake, Rob Corker, Ben Sasse – they talked conscience, then vote ‘real politik.’ As you know, Trump just endorsed Sasse.

  12. gVOR08 says:

    @al Ameda: “Real politik” didn’t used to mean self dealing. But I suppose with modern Republicans what else is there?

  13. An Interested Party says:

    Such a profile in courage is Mittens…well, compared to say, Lindsey Graham…

  14. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @al Ameda: What does Trump want that wasn’t either on Mitt’s agenda already or gets a pass because it’s “not important?” Maybe a trade war, but only if there’s no money to be made from it. Kid’s in cages? From what I recall, he one of the things he approved of about Trump when he said Trump wasn’t “presidential” enough was the immigration policy.

  15. al Ameda says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Maybe I was not artful in my comment, for that my apology.

    What I’m saying is that Romney is not so different from Jeff Flake, Rob Corker, and Ben Sasse, all of whom talked high road, about how Trump is a low life immoral greaseball, then when the heat is on and a vote must be cast, they rollover and go with Trump.

    Romney has more stature than those 3 because he was the party nominee. But when it comes to Mitt viv-a-vis Trump as we go along? I think Mitt will always rollover unless it appears that 5 or 6 of his colleagues feel the same way at that moment. Mitt is not going to be a lone wolf.