Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney said Wednesday that he will not run for reelection, ending a storied two-decade political career that included the 2012 Republican GOP nomination for president and a term as Massachusetts governor.
Romney, 76, said the country’s many challenges call for a younger generation of leaders. He said the U.S. would be better served if the two front-runners for their parties’ 2024 presidential nominations — Democratic President Joe Biden and Republican former President Donald Trump — stepped aside. Biden is 80 and Trump is 77.
Romney is known in the Senate as a frequent bipartisan negotiator and was the only Senate Republican to vote twice to convict former President Trump following separate impeachment trials. Romney, 76, noted in a video statement that he would be in his mid-80s by the end of another term and said he is opting to make way for new voices.
Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney announced Wednesday that he will not run for reelection to the Senate and called for a “new generation of leaders” as he criticized both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.
In a video message, Romney outlined a range of what he described as critical issues, including rising national debt and the climate crisis, and said “neither President Biden nor former President Trump are leading their party to confront those issues.”
The Utah Republican’s decision will mark the departure of a distinctive voice from the Senate of a lawmaker willing to take on his own party. Romney, who was the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, has long been a rare member of the Republican party who has been an outspoken critic of Trump.
In 2020, Romney found Trump guilty of abuse of power during Trump’s first impeachment trial in the Senate, becoming the first senator in US history to vote to remove from office a president from the same party.
At a time when the age of prominent politicians on both sides of the aisle has come under increasing scrutiny, Romney also emphasized the need for a new generation of leadership.
“At the end of another term, I’d be in my mid-80s,” Romney, who is 76, said. “Frankly, it’s time for a new generation of leaders. They’re the ones that need to make the decisions that will shape the world they will be living in.”
Romney heavily criticized his Senate Republican colleagues for their continued loyalty to Trump, saying, “A very large portion of my party really doesn’t believe in the Constitution,” in an excerpt published Wednesday from his upcoming biography by McKay Coppins. The excerpt, which was printed in the Atlantic, details Romney’s experience in the U.S. Senate, including his decision to not run for reelection in 2024.
Coppins recounts Romney’s experience on January 6, 2021, including the near miss where he almost walked in to a crowd of oncoming rioters, and his shock at the “disingenuousness” of his colleagues that continued to object during the electoral college proceedings.
“‘They know better! Josh Hawley is one of the smartest people in the Senate, if not the smartest, and Ted Cruz could give him a run for his money,’” Romney told Coppins. As for his newer colleagues, Romney said, “’I don’t know that I can disrespect someone more than J.D. Vance.’”
Coppins says Romney also told him that other Republican senators that ended up voting to acquit Trump in his second impeachment trial changed their minds out of fear for their safety and the safety of their families.
He would live to 120 if he could. “So much is going to happen!” he says when asked about this particular desire. “I want to be around to see it.” But some part of him has always doubted that he’ll get anywhere close.
He has never really interrogated the cause of this preoccupation, but premonitions of death seem to follow him. Once, years ago, he boarded an airplane for a business trip to London and a flight attendant whom he’d never met saw him, gasped, and rushed from the cabin in horror.
When she was asked what had so upset her, she confessed that she’d dreamt the night before about a man who looked like him—exactly like him—getting shot and killed at a rally in Hyde Park. He didn’t know how to respond, other than to laugh and put it out of his mind. But when, a few days later, he happened to find himself on the park’s edge and saw a crowd forming, he made a point not to linger.
Whether intentional or not, those remarks drew an implicit contrast with some of Romney’s even older colleagues, including 81-year-old Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and 90-year-old Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.
Both have suffered recent public health scares that have raised concerns about whether they are able to perform their duties.
Romney said in August that he would reveal his decision on running for another Senate term by the fall.
Romney was elected to the Senate in 2018, a return to elected office for the former governor of Massachusetts who mounted a failed bid to unseat then-President Barack Obama in 2012.
In Congress, Romney distinguished himself as one of former President Donald Trump’s few outspoken Republican critics. He was the only Republican to vote to convict Trump following his first impeachment trial in early 2020, a decision that drew a scornful response from Trump and his allies.
Romney joined six other Republican senators in 2021 who voted to convict Trump following his second impeachment for allegedly inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.
“Over the last couple decades, people of my age — the boomers — have done pretty well for ourselves,” he said, “and we voted for all sorts of benefits and programs for us and we’ve paid for them and think some of the people coming along next want to have a say in how we leave the earth and how they prepare for the future.”
In his recorded statement, he said, “I have spent my last 25 years in public service of one kind or another. At the end of another term, I’d be in my mid-eighties. Frankly, it’s time for a new generation of leaders. They’re the ones that need to make the decisions that will shape the world they will be living in.”
“We face critical challenges — mounting national debt, climate change and the ambitious authoritarians of Russia and China. Neither President Biden nor former President Trump are leading their party to confront them,” Romney added. “Political motivations too often impede the solutions that these challenges demand.”
El senador republicano Mitt Romney dijo el miércoles que no intentará ser reelegido a su escaño por Utah, poniendo fin a una destacada carrera política de dos décadas que incluyó una candidatura presidencial por el Partido Republicano en 2012 y un periodo como gobernador de Massachusetts.
Romney, de 76 años, dijo que los numerosos retos que enfrenta el país requieren una generación de líderes más jóvenes. Indicó también que sería mucho mejor para Estados Unidos si los dos favoritos para las candidaturas presidenciales de sus partidos en 2024 —el presidente demócrata Joe Biden y el expresidente republicano Donald Trump— se hicieran a un lado. Biden tiene 80 años y Trump 77.