Mitt Romney wins ‘Profile in Courage’ award for impeachment vote

‘Romney has been a consistent but often solitary Republican voice in defense of democracy’ said the Kennedy Family Foundation

Sen. Mitt Romney’s vote to convict then-President Donald Trump during the first impeachment trial last year earned the Utah Republican the “Profile in Courage” award Friday.

The Kennedy Family Foundation honored Romney for being the only Republican to vote to convict Trump during the February 2020 trial. Romney became the first U.S. senator in history to vote to convict a president in his same party.

“During a time of grave threat to U.S. democratic institutions, Mitt Romney has been a consistent but often solitary Republican voice in defense of democracy and the rule of law,” wrote the foundation on its website.

“Despite facing unrelenting criticism and public antagonism following this vote, along with threats to his physical safety and demands that he be censured or expelled from the Republican Party,” it added, “Romney has continued to courageously defend the fundamental principles of democratic governance.”

The award was created by the family of the late President John F. Kennedy to recognize public figures who take unpopular stances for the greater good. It is named after Kennedy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “Profiles in Courage.”

Romney “was willing to risk his career and his popularity within his own party to do what’s right for our country and to follow his conscience and Constitution in his impeachment votes,” former Ambassador Caroline Kennedy said Friday during an interview on the “Today” show.

Romney tweeted that he was “humbled” by the honor, then deflected the recognition to some of his Senate colleagues.

“We swore, under God, that we would apply impartial justice,” said Romney in an interview with NBC News. “I took that very, very seriously.”

Previous recipients of the award include House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (2019), former Presidents Barack Obama (2017) and George H.W. Bush (2014), and United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan (2002).

Some Republicans in Utah have repeatedly tried to punish Romney for his impeachment vote. In 2020, an attempt to censure him by the state GOP’s Central Committee was unsuccessful. After his vote to convict Trump for inciting the attempted insurrection and attack on the Capitol, a censure accusing Romney of being a “deep state” agent started circulating among some Utah Republicans but failed to gain traction. A renewed attempt by Utah Republicans to censure Romney also fell short.

Romney faced off against Kennedy’s younger brother Ted in 1994 in Massachusetts during his first run for U.S. Senate. Kennedy won that race, defeating Romney 58/% to 41%. Romney was later elected governor of Massachusetts in 2002.