'Please get on board': Mike Lee goes on Fox News to beg Mitt Romney for help against 'fierce' Senate challenger
Although Sen. Mike Lee and Sen. Mitt Romney are both conservative Republican senators in deep red Utah, there are some major differences between the two of them. Lee is a Donald Trump loyalist, while Romney has been vehemently critical of Trump at times. Lee voted “not guilty” in both of Trump’s impeachment trials in the U.S. Senate; Romney voted “guilty” on one of the two articles of impeachment Trump faced in the first trial, then voted “guilty” on the “incitement to insurrection” article that Trump faced in the second one.
But when Lee appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show on Tuesday night, October 11, he pleaded for Romney’s help in Utah’s 2022 U.S Senate race.
Lee, who is up for reelection, is facing an aggressive challenge from the non-MAGA right. Evan McMullin, a Never Trump conservative, is running as an independent; Lee has been ahead in the polls, but not by huge margins. A Deseret News poll released on October 10 found McMullin trailing Lee by only 4 percent.
On “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” Lee mentioned Romney by name and pleaded, “Please, get on board. Help me win reelection. Help us do that. You can get your entire family to donate to me.”
The New York Times’ Jonathan Weisman not only finds it ironic that Lee is begging and pleading for Romney’s help, but also, that he is doing it on Carlson’s show — which Weisman describes as “a venue in which Mr. Romney has been routinely roasted, for years, before audiences of millions of conservative viewers.”
Weisman, in an article published on October 13, reports, “The irony of the moment seemed lost on both Mr. Lee and the show’s host, though that may have been a bit of a shared ruse. Either way, audacity was in abundant supply…. The SOS to his fellow senator also appeared to ignore Mr. Lee’s own actions of intraparty sabotage, dating back a dozen years: Mr. Lee refused to endorse Mr. Romney’s 2018 Senate campaign. He declined, in 2012, to endorse the senior senator from Utah, Orrin Hatch, even as his own chief of staff openly predicted Mr. Hatch’s defeat. And Mr. Lee first won his own seat in 2010 by orchestrating the defeat of a popular Republican senator, Robert F. Bennett, during the state’s Republican convention.”
Weisman notes that McMullin has turned out to be an “unexpectedly fierce challenger” for Lee.
The Times reporter observes, “Mr. Lee appears particularly spooked by the $6.3 million in campaign contributions — a small portion of that through ActBlue, an online Democratic fundraising tool — that have flowed to Mr. McMullin, who has vowed to caucus with neither party if he wins…. Mr. Romney, who declined to be interviewed for this article, has explained his decision not to endorse Mr. Lee or Mr. McMullin by saying ‘both are good friends.’ But the personal divide between him and Mr. Lee over the events surrounding the 2020 election remains deep, and is playing a role now, according to Stuart Stevens, a senior official in Mr. Romney’s 2012 presidential run who is also an outspoken critic of Mr. Trump and his supporters.”
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