The sight of Sen. Mitt Romney, who was the GOP nominee for president just nine years ago, getting booed by Utah Republicans was “just terrible,” says longtime political pundit Chris Matthews.
“I don’t understand it. He didn’t do anything wrong,” Matthews told the Tribune on this week’s Utah Politics podcast. “He’s been a Republican all his life. He’s tough on taxes. He’s tough on big government. He’s the classic conservative.”
Romney was showered with catcalls by Republican delegates at the state convention last month after he voted twice to remove former President Donald Trump from office in a pair of Senate impeachment trials.
Matthews, the former host of Hardball on MSNBC and author of the new book This Country: My Life in Politics and History, says the GOP has changed so drastically since Romney lost the 2012 election that they’ve come unmoored from what they used to stand for.
“What do they (Republicans) believe in as policy? Are they a party of free trade? No more. Are they a party of fiscal responsibility? No more,” he said.
Mathews blames Trump for leading the GOP astray.
“Trump says those aren’t his concerns. Sometimes I wonder what Trump really cares about. I don’t know what Trump really thinks about anything,” Matthews said.
He began his career in Washington working for the Capitol Police, which gives him a unique perspective on the attack on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters in January.
“Trump refused to say he lost. That’s the chivalrous, patriotic thing to do, and Trump refused to do it,” Matthews said. “In politics, if you lose, you admit it. It’s a hard night, and you have to do it. That’s a big part of American politics. It’s not in the Constitution, but it’s what you do,” he says.
Matthews also discusses his time working for Utah Sen. Frank Moss, the last Democrat in the U.S. Senate from the Beehive State and his departure from his television show.