Mitt Romney The 76-year-old Republican from Utah who was the G.O.P.’s presidential contender in 2012 announced that he would retire to create room for younger leaders and strongly advocated that the president and the outgoing president do the same.
Mitt Romney Announcing on Wednesday that he would not run for reelection in 2024, Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee who broke with his party by voting to remove former President Donald J. Trump from office, said he wanted to make room for a “new generation of leaders.”
He vehemently advocated that Mr. Trump, 77, and President Biden, 80, should follow his example and step aside to make room for younger contenders, claiming that neither was successfully leading his party to address the “critical challenges” the country faces.
“I’d be in my mid-80s at the end of another term. It’s time for a new generation of leaders, said 76-year-old Mitt Romney in a video statement. They are the ones who must make the choices that will determine the world in which they will live.
In some ways, the announcement marked the end of a protracted conflict between Mr. Mitt Romney, a wealthy and affluent former governor who identifies as a classic conservative, and the Republican Party, which has recently moved beneath his feet and adopted a more abrasive form of partisanship.
Mitt Romney said on Wednesday that the far right of the G.O.P. is less interested in policy and more focused on “resentment and settling scores and revisiting the 2020 election,” adding that “there’s no question that the Republican Party today is in the shadow of Donald Trump.”
When he was elected to the Senate in 2018, Mr. Romney had a difficult time adjusting to the strong rightward shift of his party and the fact that most Republicans in Congress still publicly support Mr. Trump. Just weeks before the publication of his biography, “Mitt Romney: A Reckoning,” in which Mr. Romney acknowledges that many of his Republican colleagues privately mock and despise Mr. Trump, he decided to resign. He had been debating this decision for months.
At one moment, Mr. Romney relates how Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, referred to him as “lucky,” saying that he was able to “say the things that we all think.”
According to a book extract that appeared in The Atlantic on Wednesday, Mr. McConnell told Mr. Romney, “You’re in a position to say things about him that we all agree with but can’t say.” Mitt Romney claimed that “more than a dozen” Republican senators had expressed jealousy at his ability to publicly criticize Mr. Trump and made similar remarks to him.
Mr. McConnell told The Atlantic through a spokeswoman that he did not remember the conversation and that it did not line up with his thoughts at the time.
Mr. Mitt Romney also recounted a 2019 appearance by Mr. Trump to the biweekly Senate Republican lunch at the Capitol in the upcoming book by McKay Coppins. According to the extract, the senators were attentive and upbeat throughout the president’s speech on the “Russia hoax” and how they will soon be known as “the party of health care,” but they erupted in laughter when the president left the room.
The book also explores Mr. Romney’s frustration with the Senate, which he referred to as a “old men’s club” filled with politicians who engage in performance politics and those who are preoccupied with winning re-election. In the Senate, Mr. Mitt Romney has participated in a number of bipartisan “gangs” that are working to address important policy concerns, including as infrastructure, gun control, and the Electoral Count Act, but has rarely pushed to take the initiative.
In the video announcing his resignation, Mr. Mitt Romney hinted that neither Mr. Biden nor Mr. Trump, the current front-runner for the Republican nomination, were dealing with the nation’s most pressing problems, such as climate change, growing debt, and authoritarian threats from Russia and China. He also said that neither of them were qualified to lead the country into the future.
Later, on Capitol Hill, Mr. Mitt Romney told reporters, “It would be a great thing if both President Biden and former President Trump would stand aside.”
His call came as worries about Mr. Biden’s age and the ages of other well-known elected officials—including Mr. McConnell, the minority leader, who is 81 years old and has recently experienced health issues—were being addressed once again.
But Mr. Romney disagreed with the idea that Mr. McConnell should vacate his position.
At his age, Mr. Romney remarked, “He’s in a position to make a real difference.” “I might make a different choice if I were the Senate’s majority leader. I’m not, though.
Additionally, Mr. Romney claimed that Mr. Biden called him following his statement and he described it as “very generous, and very kind.”
Romney, who ran for president twice and views his work in politics as a moral mission motivated by his Mormon faith, gave the impression that he might still be involved in the country’s political dialogue when he said, “I’m not retiring from the fight.” His term, which expires in January 2025, was stated to be his intention.
Since Utah is firmly a Republican state, it is exceedingly doubtful that Mitt Romney’s resignation will change the balance of power on Capitol Hill. He had previously stated that he will decide whether to run for office again before the end of the year and that he was considering if he could still contribute in any meaningful way to Congress. Mr. Romney was also aware that if he decided to run again, he would have a challenging primary battle.
His choice to forego a Senate career was an analogous one made by many moderate House Republicans the previous year. Four House Republicans who voted to impeach Mr. Trump decided not to fight for reelection in the 2022 midterm elections.
On Wednesday, Mr. Romney said that while he was happy of his work on the Electoral Count Act and gun safety legislation, “looking forward, I think it’s going to be more challenging for something like that to occur again.”
When he agreed to take part in Mr. Coppins’s biography, which Scribner plans to release next month, Mr. Romney also started to fuel rumors that he was prepared to leave the Senate. When detailing how Republican lawmakers genuinely perceive and talk about Mr. Trump in private when the former president is not there, Mr. Romney is supposed to mention many of his colleagues by name in the book.
According to reports, Mr. Coppins spoke with Mr. Romney for several hours for the book and had access to the senator’s emails and diary. His colleagues are already worried that their private thoughts and discussions regarding the party’s vengeful presidential front-runner would be made public due to the book’s approaching publication.
Additionally, Mr. Romney has shown signs of growing anxiety regarding the prospect of Mr. Trump becoming the nominee for his party.
In a recent editorial article for The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Romney pleaded for Republican funders and candidates to come together behind a candidate other than Mr. Trump for fear of handing him the nomination. Donors who are supporting a candidate with a slim chance of winning should demand a promise from them to withdraw and support the candidate with the highest chance of defeating Mr. Trump by February 26.