Romney, 76, bashed both leaders equally in a video message announcing his retirement, saying neither had done enough to address the growing national debt, climate change, and the “ambitious authoritarians of Russia and China.”
“Neither President Biden nor former President Trump are leading their party to confront those issues,” he said. “Both men refuse to address entitlements, even though they know that this represents two thirds of federal spending.”
Regarding climate change, Romney blasted Trump for calling the issue of global warming a “hoax” and skewered Biden for offering “feel good solutions that make no difference to the global climate.”
My message to Utahns on my Senate reelection plan: pic.twitter.com/kgbsfIxMeR
— Senator Mitt Romney (@SenatorRomney) September 13, 2023
The senator laid out even more reasons to call it quits in a phone call with the The Washington Post on Wednesday. He said he felt it was time for a new generation to “step up” and “shape the world they’re going to live in,” and because his second term would take him into his early 80s.
Romney, who was the only Republican senator to twice vote to convict Trump in his impeachment trials, also cited the growing disarray of American politics—reiterating he wouldn’t feel confident serving under either Trump or Biden.
“We’re probably going to have either Trump or Biden as our next president,” he told the Post, “and Biden is unable to lead on important matters, and Trump is unwilling to lead on important matters.”
Romney was comfortably elected to the Senate in 2018 with 63 percent of the vote and he has maintained favorable ratings among his constituents—even as Republicans elsewhere have lashed out at him for not blindly backing Trump through each scandal. Romney said he plans to serve out the the remainder of his current term, which expires in Jan. 2025.
Romney has long been been a thorn in the side of Trump and the GOP, being one of the first party members to call out Trump for his litany of lies about the 2020 election, his unhinged rants, and more.
The feud began months before Trump shocked Hillary Clinton on election night in 2016. In a blistering speech that aired on national TV, Romney called the future president a “phony” and a “fraud.”
“If we Republicans chose Donald Trump as our nominee, the prospects for a safe and prosperous future are greatly diminished,” he said. “Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University.”
Trump was quick to react to Romney’s announcement on Wednesday, posting in all caps to Truth Social that it was “fantastic news” for the country, Utah, and the Republican Party.
“He did not serve with distinction,” Trump wrote. “A big primary fight against him was in the offing. But now that won't be necessary. Congrats to all.”
Romney, a Brigham Young University graduate and one of the most visible members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, moved to Utah after he lost to Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election. He was the governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007.
While Romney handily won his party’s nomination a decade ago, he recognized Wednesday that the broad support he once enjoyed among Republicans was no more. He told the Post that the party that nominated him in 2012 no longer exists, acknowledging that his traditional conservative wing is now “very, very small” compared to Trump’s rabid MAGA base.
He hasn’t lost all hope for his lifelong party, however. He told the Post, “If it can change in the direction of a populist, it can change back in the direction of my wing of the Republican party.”