On Oct. 22, a Salt Lake Tribune editorial declared that “Mitt Romney should be a savior for Republicans and run for Senate.”
What a difference a few weeks makes. Today, Mitt Romney should do this—whether or not Orrin Hatch retires. Last week Senator Hatch offered full-throated support for ramming through a fiscally irresponsible tax bonanza that will help the rich more than any other group and add a trillion dollars to our nation’s budget deficits: enough money to give every Salt Lake metro resident a million dollars. Yet this week, when asked about the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Hatch asserted that “The reason CHIP’s having trouble is we don’t have any money anymore.”
It’s not hard to conclude that if we don’t have any money anymore, it’s because we just gave it all away to cut taxes. The implication is clear: Hatch would rather let children die than make corporations pay one percent more in income taxes. That’s not fiscal responsibility, that’s dogmatic ideology.
Moreover, Hatch, in his own words, has been “a very faithful supporter” of President Trump. But many Utahns are unimpressed with Trump’s unprincipled, power-driven politics. Still fewer approve of his lying, philandering, profanity, racism, and shameful treatment of women. The evidence: Trump finished third in Utah’s 2016 presidential primary — behind Ted Cruz and John Kasich — with only 14 percent of the vote.
In Utah, Trump is polarizing not because Trump calls himself a Republican, but because he is not a Republican like Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Eisenhower or Reagan. He does not live or enact core Republican values. And Hatch, by faithfully supporting Trump and fiscally irresponsible legislation, has repeatedly demonstrated that he is loyal to Republican donors, not to the principles the Republican party purports to espouse.
This is why Mitt Romney should declare he will run as an independent if Senator Hatch doesn’t retire. Romney will easily win in a state where Trump’s fondness for Hatch is a two-edged sword. He lives and espouses the Republican values that a majority of Utahns support, and has demonstrated decades of principled, ethical leadership that even the most liberal Utahns surely respect.
In the Senate, Mitt Romney will represent the people of Utah with distinction, just as he did as my governor when I lived in Massachusetts. His respected voice and pivotal vote will expose, and, I hope, mitigate, the worst of our current GOP leadership’s hypocrisy. Trump and Steve Bannon know this, and that’s why they are trying so hard to convince Hatch to run for re-election, while simultaneously attacking Romney.
Mr. Romney, for the sake of our country, please run for Senate next year. And if the Republican party won’t endorse you, remember Ronald Reagan’s words, “I didn’t leave the Democratic party; the Democratic party left me,” and run as an independent.
Christopher Thorpe, San Bruno, Calif., grew up in Orangeville, Utah, where his parents still reside. He is unaffiliated with any political party, but was a registered Republican until the Republican Party left him.