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Rand Paul: Mitt Romney's NeverTrump virtue-signaling is 'bad for the Republican Party'

Conservative Review

In a call with the press Wednesday afternoon, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., issued a scathing response to an op-ed from Sen.-elect Mitt Romney, R-Utah., criticizing President Trump's character. Paul accused Romney of "virtue-signaling" with his article and said it was "bad for the Republican Party."

“I think this is bad for the Republican party and really bad for any kind of ability to work together in the Senate," Paul said.

In his op-ed, Romney said President Trump's character falls short of what is required of a president.

"The president has not risen to the mantle of the office," Romney wrote.

“To a great degree, a presidency shapes the public character of the nation. A president should unite us and inspire us to follow ‘our better angels'. ... And it is in this province where the incumbent’s shortfall has been most glaring.”

Paul lamented that Romney's "harsh critique" went after Trump personally instead of focusing on policy. He also said that Romney, like "a lot of these NeverTrumpers," disliked President Ronald Reagan as well, pointing to Romney's past positions criticizing Reagan.

“I think what we ought to do is focus in on policy," Paul said. He cited the tax cuts, prison reform bill, and Supreme Court appointments as significant accomplishments of the Trump administration, things all Republicans should be eager to support.

“I just don’t think the president deserves to have a new senator come in and attack his character,” he added.

Paul didn't limit his criticism of Romney to a press call. Earlier Wednesday, Paul slammed the op-ed, suggesting Romney is a "Big Government Republican."

After his initial statement, Paul took questions from the press. Asked if Romney's opinions on Trump are a minority in the GOP Senate conference, Paul said they are. He also praised his colleagues who keep their disagreements with the president on policies like tariffs in private, rather than publicly attacking the president. Answering another question, he suggested Romney's anti-Trump views are not representative of Utah voters. A Morning Consult poll updated last month found that as of November 2018, President Trump holds a 50 percent approval rating in Utah.

Paul added that Romney's wing of the Republican Party embraced "establishment, big-government Republicanism" that is an electoral loser.

Paul isn't the only Republican to criticize Romney's op-ed. Earlier Wednesday, Romney's own niece and RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel rebuked her uncle, saying his opposition to Trump is "disappointing and unproductive."

Paul suggested that other Republican officials feel the same way but did not know whether any more senators would publicly criticize Romney.

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