Who would have ever thought the words “GOP maverick” and “Mitt Romney” would be spoken in the same sentence.
But that is what’s happening since Wednesday’s U.S. Senate vote that ended with President Donald Trump being found not guilty of the impeachment charges against him.
Sen. Romney of Utah was the only Republican senator to vote to convict the president.
Prior to the vote, Romney seemed to be an unlikely rebel among GOP ranks to side with the Democrats in their attempt to force Trump from office. Romney has been critical of Trump at times in the past, but there’s a big difference between throwing some rocks via social media at our commander-in-chief and embarking on what many would call a political suicide mission to give him the boot.
Romney has gained a deserved reputation through the years as a political chameleon, changing his stances on various issues in attempts to earn votes and win elections.
The Mitt Romney who was the governor of Massachusetts bore little resemblance to the Mitt Romney who ran for president in 2012 and to the current Romney incarnation.
But in giving his speech before the Senate explaining his vote to convict Trump, Romney for once came across as genuine. If it was his moment of truth, he rose to the occasion and surprised everyone by having the stomach to buck the party line when his party and its leader in the White House needed him most.
For a man known for flip-flopping and having the sincerity of a time-share salesman, there was surprisingly no wiggle room in Romney’s comments regarding the charges against Trump.
“The grave question the Constitution tasks senators to answer is whether the president committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a high crime and misdemeanor,” Romney said. “Yes, he did.”
Romney continued, “The president asked a foreign government to investigate his political rival. The president withheld vital military funds from that government to press it to do so. The president delayed funds for an American ally at war with Russian invaders. The president’s purpose was personal and political. Accordingly, the president is guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust.”
The Mormon Romney talked about his decision to vote for Trump’s removal from office being a true test of faith.
“My faith is at the heart of who I am,” said an emotional Romney. “I take an oath before God as enormously consequential. I knew from the outset that being tasked with judging the president — the leader of my own party — would be the most difficult decision I have ever faced. I was not wrong.”
Romney also correctly predicted he would be the recipient of much backlash for his decision to break party ranks. On the other side of the political aisle, no Democratic senators voted to acquit the president.
Trump himself ripped on Romney via Twitter following the Senate vote, calling him “a failed presidential candidate.” One of Trump’s sons said Romney should be “expelled from the Republican Party” and Romney even got flak from one of his nieces who happens to chair the Republican National Committee.
Sadly, what’s more surprising than the slick, overly scripted and uber political Romney being the one GOP senator to vote to oust Trump is that any member of our Congress actually voted their conscience.
Politicians who make heartfelt decisions that will in the end cost them votes and possibly elections have always been in short supply.
But in 2020 America, we thought they were extinct.
Romney of all people has proven the cynics among us wrong, and for that he deserves recognition if not praise.
There was absolutely no political upside for Romney to vote to convict the president. None.
The move will cost him supporters and as a result votes even in Utah and many Republicans would now say that he can stick a fork in his political career because he’s done.
Romney’s no dummy and he knew what his defiance of his party would cost him.
And he still did what he thought he had to do. What he thought was right.
With the original GOP maverick John McCain no longer with us, perhaps his old adversary Romney is filling his shoes.
Who’d have thought?