In January, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney said it was too soon to know whether he’d endorse President Donald Trump in his 2020 reelection bid, despite decrying the president for not rising “to the mantle of the office" in a Washington Post op-ed earlier this year.
But now, according to CNN, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee has apparently seen enough to say he won’t back anyone in the race.
“I’m not planning on endorsing in the presidential race,” Romney told a CNN reporter during an interview at the Capitol. “At this stage, I’m not planning on endorsing in the primary or in the general.”
During the 2016 election, Romney was a vocal critic of Trump, although he went to dinner with Trump later when the president was mulling choices for secretary of state. Trump ultimately chose Rex Tillerson, former Exxon Mobile Corp chairman.
Romney was later elected to Utah’s federal delegation, replacing longtime Sen. Orrin Hatch, who retired.
Just before he took the oath of office, Romney published the op-ed criticizing Trump.
He offered yet another harsh critique of the president after reviewing Robert Mueller’s special counsel report on allegations Trump coordinated with Russia during is 2016 presidential run.
“I am sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest office of the land, including the President,” he said in a statement.
On Thursday, Romney also told CNN he was concerned that some states had canceled their Republican primaries to help Trump land the nomination.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh and former South Carolina congressman and Gov. Mark Sanford plan to challenge the president for the nomination. Romney, who previously served as governor of Massachusetts, is a friend of Weld’s.
“I would far prefer having an open primary, caucus, convention process ... where people can be heard,” Romney told CNN.
He added that he is not considering another presidential campaign. Romney lost to President Barack Obama in 2012.
Romney’s colleague from Utah, Sen. Mike Lee, has already indicated his plans to endorse Trump, telling Politico in December 2018, “I’ve been pleased with the number of things he’s done, and he’s been very helpful to me on criminal justice reform. … I’ve talked to him a lot and talking to him helps me develop a relationship with him.”
Lee added, “I quite like him."