Normally, someone announcing a run for a Senate seat being vacated would not rate national news and major discussion. But, if the person announcing is a former presidential candidate that lost in a very close race, and has at times voiced strong opposition to the current president from within that president’s party – well, then it is a different story. And so, with this tweet –
I am running for United States Senate to serve the people of Utah and bring Utah’s values to Washington. pic.twitter.com/TDkas6gD2p
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) February 16, 2018
Mitt Romney set the tongues a-wagging. As we have been predicting, the wagging tongues are all about whether Romney is running to pull the party away from Trump. I wrote about such fever dreams back in January. Let’s be honest, you’re never going to find Romney and Trump hanging out and having a few laughs – their temperaments and personal style just don’t mesh. Those differences will undoubtedly give the press ample opportunity to attempt to make mountains out of mole hills. Heck, they are already at it.
The BBC story on the announcements was headlined, “Mitt Romney launches Utah Senate campaign with dig at Trump.” Really?! I can’t find it. Ed Morrisey claims Romney made “not-so-oblique” Trump references in the announcement. Maybe, but you have to be looking for a fight to find one there. Some are more circumspect. The Washington Times says there might be sparks. Politco flat out says “Romney plans to lay off” the president.
Clearly Romney’s candidacy for the Senate will be another story that everyone is gong to try and make about Trump, and opposed to Trump, when the story is really about something else. If you are going to follow this race then you are going to have to choose your sources wisely – otherwise, you are going to get agenda driven nonsense, not reporting. To date the best reporting I have seen on this is by McKay Coppins. Read it.
It should be no secret that I like Mitt Romney a great deal. He is going to win this seat going away and the country will be better off for it. The race is going to be worth watching not because of electoral drama, but because the press coverage and miscoverage is going to be truly amazing. Watch this space. [UPDATES FOLLOW]
THE NEXT MORNING IT CONTINUES: A number of stories have emerged this morning covering Romney policy stances as if he were running against Trump or were seeking office as some sort of “counter-president.” Not surprising really, but it is from FoxNEWS. I have to be honest here, I am not sure what people expect out of this deal. Presuming Romney wins, a very reasonable presumption, he will have been elected to the Senate by the voters of Utah. That is a big deal, but that hardly gives him some sort of mandate to challenge the president on anything. The president was, after all, elected by the nation as a whole.
But there was a story late yesterday that caught me off guard. The typically very reliable politics and religion reporter Sarah Pulliam Bailey wrote about the waning influence of the Mormon church in Washington particularly in light of Romney’s run. There are two things about this piece that I found surprising. For one it almost makes the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints sound somehow nefarious – inside wheeling and dealing, etc. The stuff she describes here is common for any church organized on a larger than congregational level. Of course, very little of Protestantism is so organized anymore, and that which is is poorly organized, but seriously.
Secondly, a Mormon candidate out of Utah is the least newsworthy aspect of this entire thing. Utah has had Mormon senators since it first achieved statehood. This is make-news. The Mormon angle of a Romney candidacy was newsworthy in his first presidential run in 2008. It only played in the fever swamps of the Left that see religiosity as mandating some sort of social totalitarianism in 2012 and in a Senate run out of Utah, its just not news.
Like I said, watching the press on this run by Romney is going to be fun.