Mitt Romney Is Living Proof There Are No Decent Republicans

When Mitt Romney launched his bid for Orrin Hatch's Utah Senate seat last month, a small coterie of conservatives could hardly contain their elation. In Romney, they convinced themselves, they'd have a Republican who would stand up to the president and reassert the party's family values. "Mitt Romney [is] a decent, honorable person," the Daily Beast's Matt Lewis wrote at the time. "It turns out, that’s about all you can ask for these days."

On Monday, we were reminded of the #NeverTrump movement's definition of "honorable." Touting his right-wing bona fides at a media event in Provo, the former presidential candidate told reporters that he is "more of a hawk on immigration than Donald Trump" and that recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, "shouldn't all be allowed to stay in the country illegally." Romney also suggested that Dreamers should be denied permanent residency, claiming, "I will accept the president’s view on this, but for me, I draw the line and say, those who’ve come illegally should not be given a special path to citizenship."

Inflammatory as his remarks may be, no one can fault Romney for inconsistency. During his 2012 campaign for president, the former Massachusetts governor vowed to make life so miserable for immigrants that they would "self-deport," a comment that ironically drew the opprobrium of Donald Trump's future White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus. As the New Republic's Jeet Heer observes, "The campaign that Romney ran that year, with its emphasis on immigration restriction and nostalgia for alpha-male managerial expertise, was a forerunner to Trumpism."

It's true that Romney was profuse in his condemnation of Trump during the 2016 election, questioning the Republican candidate's fitness for office as well as his "bullying," his "greed" and his "third-grade theatrics." But this is the same man, after all, who sought the endorsement of the birther movement's founding member. If any one person legitimized Trump as a viable political candidate, it was Willard Mitt Romney. 

As recently as February, Romney attempted to put some distance between his politics and those of the president. “Utah welcomes legal immigrants from around the world, Washington sends immigrants a message of exclusion,” he told viewers in a video announcing his latest run for office. “And on Utah’s Capitol Hill, people treat one another with respect.”

#NeverTrump might have lost a standard-bearer this week, if only it had one to begin with. 

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