The Republican Party has strayed from the principles that Sen. Mitt Romney once knew it for, he lamented on Sunday.
Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” the Utah Republican and past GOP presidential nominee said his party has taken a “different course” from its embrace of free trade, concerns about government spending and hawkishness on Russia.
Instead, he said, it has pivoted toward emulating President Donald Trump.
“The party that I knew is one that was very concerned about Russia and [Vladimir] Putin and Kim Jong Un and North Korea, and we pushed back aggressively against them,” Romney said. “We were a party concerned about balancing the budget.”
Romney, now a persistent critic of Trump, has often been alone among Republicans in his criticism, most notably when he voted to convict Trump on one of the impeachment charges against him. Trump, impeached by the House last year, was acquitted by the Senate.
Romney had been the target of Trump attacks previously, but his vote gave the president an opening for many more broadsides.
On Sunday, the Utah senator characterized the GOP he once knew as one that placed importance on the character of its leaders. Now, he said, he represents a small slice of the party.
“We’ve strayed from that. I don't see us returning to that for a long time,” Romney lamented. “As I look at the 2024 [GOP presidential] contenders, most of them are trying to become as much like Donald Trump as they can be.”
Asked by host Jake Tapper whether he’s considered leaving the party in protest, as retiring Michigan GOP Rep. Paul Mitchell did this month, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee said he planned to remain and affect change from within.
“I think, ultimately, the Republican Party will return to the roots that have been formed over — well, the century,” he said. “So, we’ll get back at some point and, hopefully, people will recognize we need to take a different course than the one we are on right now.”