Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah announces his retirement and calls for the next generation of leaders

Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah announces his retirement and calls for the next generation of leaders

Last Updated: 14 September 2023By

Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney made headlines on Wednesday as he declared his decision not to seek re-election, effectively marking the end of his two-decade-long political career, which included a run as the Republican nominee for president in 2012 and a stint as the governor of Massachusetts.

At 76 years old, Romney emphasized that the nation needs fresh leadership from the younger generation. He suggested that it would be in America’s best interest for both major parties to move forward in the 2024 presidential race with new frontrunners, signaling the departure of the 80-year-old President Biden and 77-year-old former President Donald Trump from the political spotlight. Speaking at a press conference, Romney stated, “The time we’re living in, the next generation will step forward and make decisions that will shape American politics in the coming century. Baby boomers like me aren’t the right people to make decisions for the future.”

Romney’s plans post-Senate retirement center around engaging more youth in voting and participating in the political process. He envisions a focus on encouraging young leaders to take an active role in shaping the nation’s future. Romney, who ran as the Republican nominee for president in 2012 against Barack Obama, ran campaigns not only as a presidential candidate but also as a private equity executive who campaigned across the United States. However, with the rise of Trump’s populist appeal within the Republican Party, Romney found himself sidelined from the party’s core. He was one of the few Republican senators who voted to convict Trump on both of his impeachment trials.

In a press conference, Romney expressed his belief that he comes from the “intellectual wing” of the Republican Party and doesn’t think it’s going away. He stated, “My branch of the party talks about policies and issues that will bring positive changes to the lives of the American people. The Trump wing of the party is more concerned with grievances and re-litigating the 2020 election.”

Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah announces his retirement and calls for the next generation of leaders_RE

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell praised Romney’s contributions, acknowledging the breadth of his experience and crediting his deep commitment and dedication, saying, “The U.S. Senate is known for attracting talented and accomplished public servants. While we may not see many newcomers like Mitt Romney anytime soon, we welcome his service.” Romney’s decision to retire comes after winning an easy Senate race in 2018. However, he faced significant opposition from members of his own party after emerging as one of the most prominent figures to break from Trump. In 2020, Romney became the first senator to vote to convict a sitting president of his own party in an impeachment trial, both times when Trump was acquitted.

Nonetheless, Romney remains popular in Utah, where he has long provided shelter for a faction of the party that adheres to civic conservatism and opposes Trump’s combative and divisive political style. Utah is home to the Lincoln Project, a Trump-opposing Republican initiative; Evan McMullin, who launched a long-shot campaign for president in 2016; and GOP Governor Spencer Cox, who has criticized Trump and is also preparing for a potential run in 2024.

Romney served as the governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007. During his tenure, he signed a healthcare law that shared key similarities with the federal Affordable Care Act signed by President Barack Obama in 2010, a move that put Romney at odds with his own party’s base. Romney’s presidential campaign saw him grappling with the perception that he was out of touch with regular Americans. A secretly recorded comment during a fundraising event where he referred to “47% of Americans” as not paying taxes and believing themselves to be victims further exacerbated this image. After losing his bid for the presidency, Romney moved to Utah, where he ran for the U.S. Senate in 2018. During his primary campaign that year, he accepted Trump’s endorsement but also pledged in an op-ed that he would “speak out against significant statements or actions that are divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest, or destructive to democratic institutions.”

In 2020, Romney joined protests against police misconduct with minority communities in Washington, posting an image of himself with the caption “Black Lives Matter,” a rare statement among members of his party. On January 6, 2021, as Trump supporters were storming the Capitol in an effort to prevent Biden from being certified as president, Romney found himself face-to-face with rioters. A Capitol Police officer directed him to turn and run for safety.

Trump acknowledged Romney’s retirement news with praise, saying that the senator “didn’t work with distinction.” He tweeted, “America, Utah, and the Republican Party’s great news! He was going to be challenged in the primary and now he won’t be. I hope he does well! But if he doesn’t, it doesn’t matter, because Utah is a great State, and America is the GREATEST Nation in the history of the World!”

Mitt Romney’s decision to step back from the political arena marks the end of an era in American politics, as the nation prepares to witness new leaders emerge and shape its future.