Romney: A 'graceful departure' is not in Trump's nature

Colin Campbell
·Managing Editor
·3 min read

Mitt Romney knows something about losing a presidential race: He has lost twice before, in the GOP primary in 2008 and four years later as the Republican nominee.

As the country and world wait to see how President Trump reacts to his loss in the 2020 contest, Romney says they should not expect him to adopt the typical posture of a defeated candidate: a rueful concession of a hard-fought battle, thanks offered for the efforts of his campaign staff, a pledge to work with the winner on behalf of the nation.

"I would prefer to see the world watching a more graceful departure, but that's just not in the nature of the man," the Utah senator said Sunday in an interview on CNN's "State of the Union."

On Saturday, the Associated Press and other major media networks called the presidential race in favor of Joe Biden, who has secured comfortable margins of victory in enough states to achieve an Electoral College majority. The result is not official until the Electoral College meets in December, however, and Trump has refused to concede, instead pledging to keep fighting in the courts and throwing out spurious allegations of fraud.

"He is who he is. And he has a relatively relaxed relationship with the truth," Romney said on CNN.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney waved to supporters during his election-night rally, in 2012. (AP/David Goldman)
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney waved to supporters during his election-night rally, in 2012. (AP/David Goldman)

"And so he's going to keep on fighting until the very end. But I'm convinced that once all remedies have been exhausted, if those are exhausted in a way that's not favorable to him, that he will accept the inevitable. But don't expect him to go quietly in the night. That's not how he operates."

Last week, Romney also contradicted and condemned Trump's bogus fraud claims, which have ranged from state-based legal challenges across the country — many of which were quickly dismissed — to outright falsehoods and all-caps tweets denying the legitimacy of mail-in votes favoring Biden.

"He is wrong to say that the election was rigged, corrupt and stolen — doing so damages the cause of freedom around the world, weakens the institutions that lie at the foundation of the Republic, and recklessly inflames the destructive and dangerous passions," Romney said in a statement last week. (He stressed in Sunday interviews that Trump has "every right" to pursue recounts and legal challenges and to let that process play out.)

Over the past few years, Romney has emerged as one of the most prominent Republican critics of Trump, marking the continuance of the roller-coaster relationship between the two businessmen turned politicians.

In 2012, Donald Trump endorsed Mitt Romney for president in Las Vegas. (mpi88/MediaPunch Inc./IPX via AP)
In 2012, Donald Trump endorsed Mitt Romney for president in Las Vegas. (mpi88/MediaPunch Inc./IPX via AP)

The former Massachusetts governor received Trump's endorsement in the 2012 race after coming up short in the 2008 primary. Romney went on to deliver a scathing takedown of the real estate mogul in the lead-up to the 2016 general election, calling him unfit for office. But he also sought a job in Trump's administration as secretary of state. Romney went on to successfully run for a U.S. Senate seat in Utah and cast the lone GOP vote to remove Trump from office after the House impeached him at the start of this year.

On Sunday, Romney said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that he would not give Trump any advice on "the waning days of his presidency."

"We're not going to change President Trump or his nature," he said. "Clearly, people in the past, like myself, who have lost elections, have gone out in a way that said, 'Look, I know the eyes of the world are on us,'" he added.

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