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Utah GOP state convention delegates defeat move to censure Sen. Mitt Romney

Convention attendees split 798-711 after a spirited debate, with some accusing Romney of betraying party values in twice supporting President Trump’s impeachment.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Delegates attend the Utah Republican Party’s 2021 Organizing Convention at the Maverik Center in West Valley City on Saturday, May 1, 2021, as they return to an in-person format after the pandemic forced the nominating convention to go online last year.

West Valley City • Despite raining boos down on him earlier in the day, Utah Republicans narrowly rejected a motion to censure Sen. Mitt Romney for his votes during the two impeachment trials of President Donald Trump.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Sen. Mitt Romney gets ready to take the stage during the Utah Republican Party’s 2021 Organizing Convention at the Maverik Center in West Valley City on Saturday, May 1, 2021, where he was booed by Republican delegates numbering more than 1,900.

After a vigorous debate at their state convention, delegates voted 798 to 711 to defeat the censure, part of a raucous party gathering held Saturday at the Maverik Center in West Valley City.

The motion to censure and close vote the defeat came near the end of the party’s meeting, even after top party leaders had urged unity in speech after speech through the day.

“Mitt Romney’s votes to remove Trump from office in two illegitimate impeachment trials hurt the constitution and hurt the party,” said Davis County delegate Don Guymon, who authored the resolution.

The proposal, among several platform changes debated Saturday, also sought to praise the other members of Utah’s congressional delegation for their support of the former president.

“This was a process driven by Democrats who hated Trump,” continued Guymon. “Remember when (Nancy Pelosi) tore up his speech? Romney’s vote in the first impeachment emboldened Democrats who continued to harass Trump.”

Romney drew a torrent of boos when he came to the podium earlier Saturday — a display, one delegate said later said, that had already signaled the unhappiness many felt over his support of moves in the U.S. Senate to impeach Trump.

“If the point of all this is to let Mitt Romney know we’re displeased with him, trust me, he knows,” said Salt Lake County delegate Emily de Azavedo Brown. “Let’s not turn this into a Trump or no Trump thing. Are we a party of principle or a party of a person?”

Others warned supporting the censure risked defining the party around Trump instead of conservative principles most delegates treasure.

“This proposal is not about whether Romney is a good Republican,” echoed Utah County delegate Steve Densley. “This is about sending a message that this party cannot tolerate dissent.

“This is not the cancel culture party. This is the Republican Party,” he said, drawing widespread cheers from the audience.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Trump memorabilia is sold during the Utah Republican Party’s 2021 Organizing Convention at the Maverik Center in West Valley City on Saturday, May 1, 2021.

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