Romney would start his first six-year term with more influence than most senators. In one sign of his clout, an Atlantic report earlier this month said the GOP was already considering him to lead the National Republican Senatorial Committee. In that role, he would oversee the fundraising arm for Senate Republicans and help to vet potential candidates.
Regardless of whether he gets a leadership position, Romney would have a big platform to speak out against Trump. He has the name recognition to start a national discussion or advance it.
Romney has been a frequent critic of the president in the past.
In March 2016, Romney eviscerated then-candidate Trump in a speech. He warned that Trump’s economic policies could “instigate a trade war” and “balloon the deficit and national debt.” He called Trump a “phony” and a “fraud” and warned that his national security policy would make Americans less safe.
Romney changed his tune after Trump’s election. The president-elect interviewed him more than once to possibly serve as secretary of State. In November 2016, Romney praised Trump’s “impressive” transition effort and noted how hard it is to win the presidency.
As he narrowed down the candidates to serve as America’s top diplomat, Trump denied that he included Romney in the process to torment him after the harsh criticism during the campaign.
“It’s not about revenge,” the president-elect said in December 2016.
Trump later chose Rex Tillerson to lead the State Department.
Since the secretary of State interview process ended, Romney has occasionally used social media to rebuke the president. Trump supported Roy Moore — a man accused of sexually abusing teens decades ago — in last year’s Alabama Senate special election. In December, Romney tweeted that he believed Moore accuser Leigh Corfman and said electing Moore “would be a stain on the GOP and on the nation.”
When Trump reportedly questioned last month why the U.S. needed immigrants from “s—hole” African countries, Romney called the sentiment “antithetical to American values.”
As the 83-year-old Hatch mulled retirement in December, Trump reportedly urged him to seek re-election in part to avoid a Romney run for office. When Hatch announced his retirement in January, Trump and Romney spoke on the phone. The president wished the former governor good luck in his future endeavors.
Despite the public clashes, Williams believes Romney wants to work with Trump and would not run as an anti-Trump candidate.
“He’s a conservative Republican, but he won’t hesitate to speak out if he disagrees with President Trump,” he said.
Both former Romney aides consider taxes and some other economic policies areas in which Romney and Trump could cooperate. They believe Romney would have supported the GOP tax law, which permanently chopped rates for companies and at least temporarily trimmed the tax burden on most individuals.
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