Mitt Romney eyeing victory in Utah

Mitt Romney, who harshly criticized Trump as a candidate but has since offered targeted praise of some of the President's policies, is hoping to win the primary runoff in the race to replace retiring Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch.

Posted: Jun 27, 2018 4:22 PM
Updated: Jun 27, 2018 4:24 PM

Mitt Romney is an anomaly in American politics, a former presidential nominee who has now set his sights on a lower office.

He tried and failed twice to win the White House, rising in 2012 to be Republicans' choice on the general election ballot, which is usually the end point of an electoral career.

There are exceptions -- sort of.

John McCain didn't exactly fade into the woodwork after losing to Barack Obama in 2008. He kept his job in the Senate after failing to win the White House in 2008. McCain ran for reelection in 2010 and 2016. So did John Kerry, who ran for reelection to the Senate in 2008 and also went on to be Obama's secretary of state.

But there's a difference between staying put in the Senate or Congress and actively seeking a new electoral role.

It's hard to find a former major party nominee who tried to run for a new, lower office.

Richard Nixon did it. As vice president, Nixon lost the White House to John F. Kennedy in 1960 and then moved home to California, where he ran for governor in 1962. He lost that race badly, and on election night seemed to throw in the towel on politics for good.

"You don't have Nixon to kick around anymore, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference," he told reporters.

But after some years in the political wilderness, he ran again for president in 1968. You know the rest.

However, Nixon was a very young man, not yet 50 when he lost that 1960 race. Romney is 71. If he wants to ride this Senate gig to another White House run, he'd be 77 the next time there's space atop the ticket of what has become President Donald Trump's Republican Party. Maybe not the craziest thing. Joe Biden, who clearly seems to be considering another run for president, is 75.

There are some former presidents who went on to later political careers. John Quincy Adams was a one-termer who after losing a bid for reelection went on to a long career in the House of Representatives (and a failed bid for governor of Massachusetts).

You can judge for yourself Romney's motivations in all this. He talked to CNN's Dana Bash before his primary victory in Utah Tuesday.

He clearly thinks he's uniquely qualified to serve in government and he wants to be a voice in Washington in this incredible political era -- in which a man from his own party whose campaign Romney tried to sabotage and whose administration he then tried to join has the job he once so coveted.

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