U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally on the eve of the U.S. mid-term elections.
(photo credit: REUTERS/CARLOS BARRIA)
US President Donald Trump on Wednesday cautioned fellow Republican Mitt Romney to be a “team player” after the former presidential candidate and incoming US senator from Utah sharply criticized the president’s actions and questioned his character.
In a Washington Post essay published late on Tuesday, Romney suggested that the US leader “caused dismay around the world” and said that Trump’s presidency had “made a deep descent in December.”
“On balance, his conduct over the past two years is evidence that the president has not risen to the mantle of the office,” said Romney, who assumes a senatorial role in Washington on Thursday.
“The appointment of senior persons of lesser experience, the abandonment of allies who fight beside us, and the president’s thoughtless claim that America has long been a ‘sucker’ in world affairs all defined his presidency,” the former governor wrote.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment, but Trump
fired back in a tweet early on Wednesday morning that took aim at Romney’s loss in the 2012 presidential elections.
“Here we go with Mitt Romney, but so fast! Question will be, is he a Flake? I hope not. Would much prefer that Mitt focus on Border Security and so many other things where he can be helpful. I won big, and he didn’t. He should be happy for all Republicans. Be a TEAM player & WIN!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
The president referred to outgoing US Senator Jeff Flake, a Republican lawmaker who publicly spoke out against Trump and drew the president’s wrath.
Representatives for Romney could not be immediately reached for comment to Trump’s tweet.
Romney had excoriated Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign as a “fraud” who was “playing the American public for suckers.” Trump criticized Romney’s 2012 loss to former Democratic president Barack Obama.
But the two appeared to bury their bitterness, with Trump briefly considering Romney for the position of Secretary of State after he won the 2016 presidential election, and in February 2018, endorsed Romney’s run for the Senate.
It is unclear whether any other Republican lawmakers will feel emboldened to criticize Trump ahead of his 2020 re-election bid or whether he will face serious challengers for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination.
But in his essay on Tuesday, Romney sought to stake out a more independent position in his party and vowed to be a strong voice in Washington, which now includes a divided Congress as Democrats are scheduled to take control of the House of Representatives on Thursday.
“I will speak out against significant statements or actions that are divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest or destructive to democratic institutions,” Romney wrote.
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