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Mitt Romney Has Every Right to Express His Concerns

The vitriol heaped upon former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney this past week is entirely illogical and irrational. It only makes sense in the emotion-driven context prevailing during this election cycle. But alas, due to the prevailing emotional populist sentiment, logic has become the most obvious casualty of the primary election season. No wonder this is often referred to as the “silly season.”

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MARCH 3: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gives a speech on the state of the Republican party at the Hinckley Institute of Politics on the campus of the University of Utah on March 3, 2016 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Romney spoke about Donald Trump calling him a fraud and arguing against his nomination.  (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT – MARCH 3: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gives a speech on the state of the Republican party at the Hinckley Institute of Politics on the campus of the University of Utah on March 3, 2016 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Romney spoke about Donald Trump calling him a fraud and arguing against his nomination. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

Romney had the temerity to criticize the demeanor, abrasive and crass style, as well as some of the unpropitious statements by current Republican frontrunner, Donald Trump. “He creates scapegoats of Muslims and Mexican immigrants. He calls for the use of torture. He calls for killing the innocent children and family members of terrorists. He cheers assaults on protesters. He applauds the prospect of twisting the Constitution to limit First Amendment freedom of the press. This is the very brand of anger that has led other nations into the abyss,” Romney declared.

The former Massachusetts governor came short of endorsing one of the other three candidates in the GOP race, but discouraged Republican voters from supporting Trump. In doing so, he echoed the sentiments of many who claim affinity with an ABT approach to the primaries – Anyone But Trump.

Some of the critics of Romney’s interjection into the race have said he has no right to do so. Isn’t it ironic that those so critical of Romney think they can express their disdain, but Romney can’t? Can’t get much more duplicitous than that! Frankly, every citizen has that First Amendment right of free speech. One is not deprived of that right just because they’re a former candidate, or may have lost an election.

Should his opinion carry weight? Logically, as well as a matter of principle, one should think so. He’s carried the party banner, and did so with dignity and class. He’s a man of sound judgment and acumen, and sometimes those who have run and lost have a better grasp of the stakes than those who haven’t. He has a vested interest in the future of the country and the future of the Republican Party. Perhaps his words are ignored at our peril.

Others have criticized Romney saying he was a “horrible” candidate in 2012 running against Barack Obama. This begs the question, what is a good candidate? He had no skeletons in his closet, no moral turpitude, and he acted presidential. He is, in many ways, the antithesis of this year’s frontrunner. Maybe that says more about the party and how it’s changing, than it says about Romney.

That’s not to say he didn’t make faux pas’ as a candidate. His factual observation that 47% of the populace is on some kind of federal assistance didn’t help, and according to some political operatives, his refusal to go negative against Obama sealed his fate. Is that another component to being a “horrible” candidate? Refusing to go negative? If so, it certainly explains why many in the GOP are in full-fledged adulation mode with Trump. With him, it will be a surprise if and when he goes positive.

Perhaps the animosity directed toward Romney is merely transference because of the anti-establishment mentality prevalent during this election cycle. Even this is illogical since Romney was not the preferred “establishment” candidate either in ’08 (when he bowed out early) or in 2012.

As the Washington Post reminded us a year ago, “Romney wasn’t the first choice for many in the establishment. True, a few bigwigs were deeply committed to him from the start. But they hardly represented consensus opinion. That’s why we heard so many entreaties for other candidates to run.”

maxresdefaultIn an interview earlier this week, Chris Wallace asked Romney about the “establishment” allegation. Romney responded, “Establishment suggests there must be some Wizard of Oz somewhere pulling the strings. That’s not the way it works. I sat there and watched Donald Trump, and I said, look, someone has got to say something. I didn’t talk to anybody and say, ‘I’m going to do a speech, do you have some ideas?’ This is something I did on my own because I care very deeply about the country.”

“I love America. I’m concerned about America and I believe the heart and soul of conservatives and Republicans recognize that the principles that Donald Trump is talking about have nothing to do with conservatism, nothing to do with keeping America strong.”

What the establishment allegation against Romney does is create a whole new definition of the “establishment.” In this iteration, it’s everyone who doesn’t share the gutter-mentality, gutter-speech, and noncommittal ideology of Donald Trump.

Which brings us to arguably the most denunciatory claim made against Romney – that he’s a “loser.” This requires assessment of why he lost in 2012. As Rush Limbaugh explains it, “4.5 million to 5 million Republicans didn’t vote in 2012. This is the conventional wisdom and they didn’t vote because they didn’t like the nominee, he wasn’t conservative enough, or there was a religious component.”

41ROGhsGaSL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_So was he conservative enough? Many in the establishment thought he was too conservative, hence their efforts to recruit and back more “mainstream” candidates. Further, anyone who read his book “No Apology,” knew where his priorities and his values were based. He did not lack in conservative fidelity! But as Rush points out, there likely was a bigotry issue with some who refused to back an LDS (Mormon) candidate. Their ecclesiastical purity trumped their love of country. That is unconscionable! Voting for a president is not an ecclesiastical endorsement!

Those verities translate into Romney’s critics perhaps being the real losers. If they didn’t bother to get behind him and vote four years ago, they’re the losers. Romney, and the nation, simply reaped the fruits of those who condemned us with another four years of “the One” by their imprudence and inaction.

The country missed one of the greatest opportunities for principled, conservative, and classy leadership four years ago. What a shame that he is maligned now for having the audacity to share his valid concerns for the future of the party and the nation!

Romney had every right to share his insights, and we simply prove yet again that we’re losers, as a party and as a nation, if we fail to listen to wisdom and reason, regardless of how much we may like or dislike the source.

Associated Press award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho and is a graduate of Idaho State University with degrees in Political Science and History and coursework completed toward a Master’s in Public Administration. He can be reached at rlarsenen@cableone.net.

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Richard Larsen

AP award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho, and is a graduate of Idaho State University with a BA in Political Science and History and former member of the Idaho State Journal Editorial Board. He can be reached at rlarsenen@cableone.net.

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  1. Of course Romney has every right to express his opinion. I really don’t think that is in dispute by most people. Its just that his strong position will further splinter Republican support and fracture the party. I voted for Romney and I agree that the country lost a great opportunity for an effective leader in so many ways. However, that is gone and we need to move on. Criticizing Trump, whether valid or not, only gives support to the Democratic candidates. If its true that 4.5 to 5 million conservative voters stayed home in 2012, and I’m not sure I believe that, then this election has a chance for change if these voters show up at the polls. I have never voted for a candidate that I greed with 100%. Actually, I find that many people vote against the other candidate as much as for their candidate. I cannot, in good conscience, vote for more Socialism or downright Communism. Many of us may have to hold our noses and vote for the opposite candidate like him or not…..

    1. Curt, thank you for your thoughtful response!

      I honestly don’t think he’s attempting to “splinter” the party. I think he’s trying to save us from Hillary.

      The entire reason for Romney’s diatribe is captured in this one statement. “A person so untrustworthy and dishonest as Hillary Clinton must not become president. But a Trump nomination enables her victory.”

      This puts his criticism of Trump in full context. A context made much more dire when we realize Trump is the only remaining GOP candidate who loses to Hillary in nearly every national poll.


  2. I’m no political expert but telling me that trashing Trump is going to save the country from Hillary is beyond a stretch. In fact, the better case can be made that this will only make her that much stronger. There’s a lot about Trump I don’t care for. However, I will vote for him if it means that Hillary will not get elected. Trump is resonating with many as we can see from the recent riots at his rallies. Honestly, knowing history and where I believe we are headed as a nation, these “protesters” will become more emboldened as time goes on. If the Left gets more power the intolerance and disrespect for the law will only increase. We live in crazy times where up is down and down is up. Check out what is going on in Baltimore for example, and there are so many more examples. This group of people will blame Trump or whoever for whatever grievance they have and yet they have been led by the left for 75years. Give me a break!

  3. It seems that many Republicans do, indeed have feet of clay. Romney was the MAJORITY of Republicans choice to take over the helm and now that same majority consider his words ‘out of line’ and leave their decisions making up to the mush ‘n mess speak of others. …. If ‘they’ want to know (who) is calling the shots perhaps a wee bit of would searching will provide the answer and quite probably they will find their shirts are feathers and noses are beaks of the parrot. …IF so many continue to allow others to speak and think for them we may find ourselves well down the road to the bondage we protest against.

    You checked Romney’s closet for skeletons…..If you check Trumps…stand back !!!! What falls out will make Fibber McGee look like a piker…..

    Here’s a thought that’s surfaced in the last couple of days…….It’s a very human nature to ‘push back’ and often at our own expense…The Leftist groups are going out of their way to demonize Trump in hopes that “We’ll show them ! They can’t tell me who to vote for !!!…..and we do vote for Trump…and Hillary wins….
    I pray that all will VOTE FOR AMERICA FIRST !!!

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