Mitt Romney Brags About His “Renegade Republican” Status on Capitol Hill

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Eight years after mounting his own unsuccessful run for president, Sen. Mitt Romney wants to let you know that he’s not the man he once was. At the time of his run, Romney was seen as the torch-bearer for the Republican establishment, but these days, with a penchant for criticizing President Donald Trump whenever the mood suits him, Romney says he has found himself in the position of John McCain, Jeff Flake, Justin Amash, and other Republicans who have gone to war with the White House.

In a speech at the conservative think tank The Sutherland Institute this week, Romney told a Salt Lake City audience that while he was dead-set against the Democratic Party’s slide toward socialism, he was concerned that “neither party is interested in talking about the debt and the deficit.”

“I guess I should consider myself a renegade Republican because I still believe that deficits and debt matter a lot,” Romney said.

That wasn’t the only criticism Romney had in store for the current administration.

“I don’t like tariffs being placed on our friends and allies, I think the likes of Putin and Kim Jong-un deserve censure instead of flattery, and I think demonstrating personal character is one of the most important responsibilities of the leader of the land,” he said.

Romney took aim at certain forms of foreign aid which were bound to come back and haunt us.

“We attempt to be the leader of the world,” he said, “but we’re sending billions of dollars to China and Russia and other countries, while they’re using that money – our interest – to build a military that would confront us.”

It would be silly to pretend that Romney is wrong about everything just because he hasn’t boarded the Trump Train, but it’s also silly to act as though his brand of conservatism has any place in Washington anymore. Indeed, the mere idea of true fiscal conservatism – balancing the budget, chipping away at the national debt – has been DOA on Capitol Hill and in the White House for as many years as we can count. Romney is still caught in that old, intellectual style of conservatism – the kind that sounds really, really good on paper, but doesn’t actually ever translate into real policies or effective legislation.

We have a soft spot for that sort of conservatism ourselves, but the fact remains: No president has given Republican voters more than the current one, and he didn’t do it by using the William F. Buckley handbook. Failure to recognize this doesn’t make Romney a “renegade” or a conservative folk hero, it just makes him another NeverTrump also-ran watching history pass him by.