Utah Sen. Mitt Romney said former President Donald Trump should shoulder at least some of the blame for the Republican Party’s lackluster performance in the midterm elections, calling Trump’s endorsement the “kiss of death” for GOP candidates.
“President Trump lost again,” Romney told reporters in Washington on Wednesday, according to Semafor reporter Morgan Chalfant. The Utah Republican’s comments came the day after the GOP suffered another midterm defeat as Democrat Raphael Warnock defeated Herschel Walker in Tuesday’s Georgia U.S. Senate runoff election.
“If you get endorsed by him in the primary, you’re likely to win. If you get endorsed by him in the general, you’re likely to lose,” Romney said, according to HuffPost reporter Igor Bobic. “So for someone who actually wants to win an election, getting endorsed by him is the kiss of death.”
Including Walker, Trump endorsed six Republican U.S. Senate candidates in swing states won by Joe Biden in 2020. The only winner was Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, NBC News’ Allan Smith reported.
Leading up to the midterm elections, Republicans expected a “red wave” would sweep them to power in Congress. That wave never materialized as Republicans won a slim majority in the House while Democrats gained a seat in the Senate to give them an outright majority.
This is the third straight election cycle with disappointing results for Republicans. In the 2018 midterms, Democrats picked up 41 seats in the House to claim the majority. In 2020, Trump lost the White House to Joe Biden while Democrats won control of the Senate. Romney said that string of losses should prompt the GOP to move on from Trump.
“I know a lot of people in our party love the former president. But he’s the kiss of death for someone who wants to win the general election. At some point, we’ve got to move on and look for new leaders that will lead us to win,” Romney said.
Trump announced last month he would once again run for president in 2024.
Romney, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012, has not yet announced whether he intends to run for a second term in the Senate in 2024.