NATIONAL HARBOR, MD — Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA, encouraged the audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) to boo Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), the former Republican candidate for president in 2012 who was banned from CPAC this year.
“The Republican Party of Mitt Romney,” Kirk began, to loud boos from the audience.
“Correct answer, by the way. Correct,” Kirk said. “Every time his name is mentioned, you should respond that way. Because he lied to every single person in this room that knocked on doors for him, that made phone calls for him, that donated to his campaign. Because we thought that he was going to be a crusader against the Marxist president that preceded Donald Trump. And now he asks and he begs for the endorsement of Donald Trump for the Senate in Utah, and then he goes and votes for that sham unconstitutional impeachment.”
Indeed, many conservatives and Republicans felt betrayed by Romney, who became the first U.S. senator in history to vote to convict and remove a sitting president of his own party in the impeachment trial. Romney voted for the first article of impeachment, “Abuse of Power,” but against the second article, “Obstruction of Congress.” The second article was far more unconstitutional than the first, but Kirk’s point about Romney’s betrayal stands. Romney asked Trump for his endorsement in 2012, and Trump gave it. Romney refused to endorse Trump in 2016, but he reportedly asked the president-elect for a job. Then he asked Trump for his endorsement for the Senate in 2016, and Trump gave it.
In 2012, I worked 80 hours per week to get Mitt Romney elected. I knocked on doors for him, I made phone calls for him. I felt personally betrayed by Romney’s vote.
The senator gave undue support to an impeachment argument that was incredibly partisan and weak. He effectively voted to give Trump the political death penalty for something that at most would have warranted a speeding ticket. The supposed abuses at the center of the case arguably have more to do with Obama’s administration and questions still remain as to just how orchestrated the Trump Ukraine “scandal” was from the beginning.
I would not necessarily say that Romney lied to me and to the millions who worked to elect him in 2012, but I would say he betrayed our trust. His vote gave undue weight to a sham impeachment pushed by Democrats who have been chomping at the bit to remove Trump from office ever since he got elected in 2016. Romney did not just vote for impeachment, he also made it politically feasible for every single Senate Democrat to vote en masse for that conviction and removal. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) signaled he would support censure instead of impeachment and removal before Romney’s speech, but after Romney’s speech, he voted to remove Trump. Thanks to Romney, Republicans lost any Democratic defections in the Senate, when the partisan impeachment should have had at least one.
I don’t always agree with Charlie Kirk, but I think he has a point.
Charlie Kirk sets the tone, telling CPAC crowd that booing is the appropriate response to Mitt Romney's name. pic.twitter.com/eFCJXc8yqT
— Anthony L. Fisher (@anthonyLfisher) February 27, 2020
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.