U.S. Senator Mitt Romney, a Republican from Utah, announced on Wednesday that he will not seek reelection in 2024 and will likely retire from public service altogether when his term expires in January 2025.
“I have spent my last 25 years in public service of one kind or another,” Romney said in a statement. “At the end of another term, I’d be in my mid-eighties. Frankly, it’s time for a new generation of leaders. They’re the ones that need to make the decisions that will shape the world they will be living in.”
Romney, who was first elected to the Senate in 2018, had an unsuccessful run for the White House in 2012 against then-President Barack Obama. During that campaign, he infamously attacked Americans with lower incomes in a private speech that was recorded and leaked. Prior to his presidential run, Romney served as governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007.
Romney criticized both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump in his announcement of his impending retirement, saying that “neither President Biden nor Former President Trump are leading their party” to confront issues like the climate crisis, the rise of authoritarianism around the world, and the national debt.
Romney was a rare critic of Trump from within the Republican Party — he has, in the past, described Trump as a “fraud,” a “phony” and a bad role model. He is the only Republican senator to have voted for Trump’s removal from the presidency in both of the former president’s impeachment trials.
An upcoming biography about Romney — based on interviews with the lawmaker by The Atlantic’s McKay Coppins over the past few years — also made headlines yesterday. In excerpts of the book that were posted on The Atlantic’s website, Romney said that he was retiring not only to make room for a new generation but also because he felt like he “no longer fit in his current party” and he is “afraid” of Republicans in his home state who are deeply loyal to Trump. He also expressed worries about Trump loyalists in Utah who may be opposed to him running for another term — in Utah, “people carry guns,” he told Coppins.
When Romney first entered the Senate, it was two years into Trump’s presidential term. Romney was surprised to learn that Republicans in that chamber were also critical of Trump, often laughing at him behind closed doors.
“In private, they ridiculed his ignorance, rolled their eyes at his antics, and made incisive observations about his warped, toddlerlike psyche,” Coppins said in his book, recounting what Romney had told him.
Romney recalled to Coppins an incident in which Trump visited the Senate GOP caucus, celebrating his supposed “exoneration” after Attorney General William Barr said special counsel Robert Mueller failed to find any wrongdoing in his report and swinging “wildly from one tangent to another.”
“As soon as Trump left, Romney recalled, the Republican caucus burst into laughter,” Coppins wrote.
Still, Romney agreed with the former president on many of his far right policies, voting alongside Trump’s position 75 percent of the time. Former Republican congressman Joe Walsh has suggested that Romney helped to enable the conditions that led to Trump’s rise to power in GOP politics.
“Mitt is right to be disturbed by the MAGA takeover of the GOP. But he & all of us Republicans/conservatives made it possible,” Walsh wrote X, the site formerly known as Twitter. “We need to honestly understand if we ever intend to defeat MAGA.”
Romney’s announcement comes as other lawmakers in the Senate have faced calls to retire due to concerns over their ability to serve after exhibits of what appears to be mental decline. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) has been on the receiving end of such criticisms after twice appearing unable to answer questions from reporters, as has Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who has exhibited moments of confusion while working in the upper house of Congress. In 2017, a D.C.-based pharmacist indicated that he has filled Alzheimer’s-related prescriptions for numerous lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
Currently, the median age of a U.S Senate member is over 65 years. A recent CBS News/YouGov poll found that 77 percent of Americans believe there should be age limits for congressional lawmakers.
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