But does it matter? Mitt Romney doesn’t seem to think so, which is actually the more significant takeaway from this NBC News exclusive. “I call ’em like I see ’em,” Romney tells a reporter, explaining that he’s not going to be a member of La Résistance as a US senator. Romney instead says he’ll deal with Donald Trump as events dictate, and that so far there’s plenty to like.
As for being a role model, though, Romney takes a pass:
"I believe his policies have been, by and large, a good deal better than I might have expected, but some of the things he's said are not ones that I would aspire for my grand-kids to adopt."
Mitt Romney says he wouldn't "point to the president" as a role model for his grand-kids pic.twitter.com/LeKLmF6HJ5
— NBC News (@NBCNews) May 29, 2018
ROMNEY: Well, I call ’em like I see ’em. And where the president’s right, in my view, on policy for Utah and the country, I’ll be with him. And he’s exceeded my expectations with regards to tax policy, regulatory policy, public land policy. There’s some other places where we disagree. I’d like to have seen a greater effort on the TPP agreement. I think we want to open up new markets for our goods in this country. I’ll point that out and do my best to convince him of the rightness of my thinking.
But if the president were to say something which is highly divisive, or racist or misogynistic, why, I’ll call him out on it, because I think it’s important for people to know exactly where one stands.
NBC: Do you think he’s a role model?
ROMNEY: I don’t think that I would point to the president as a role model for my grandkids on the basis of his personal style. He has departed in some cases from the truth and has attacked in a way that I think is not entirely appropriate. I believe his policies have been by and large a good deal better than I might have expected, but some of the things he’s said are not ones that I would aspire for my grandkids to adopt.
In other words, Mitt Romney plans to fit right in with most of the GOP in Washington if he wins Orrin Hatch’s seat in the Senate. They want to focus on policy, where Trump’s winning in significant ways, especially on reshaping the federal judiciary and loosening restrictions on economic producers. Who cares if Trump’s a role model or not? Democrats didn’t seem terribly concerned about that with Bill Clinton, for instance, or even with Hillary Clinton in relation to Bill. History largely rewarded them for that choice, too, especially after the GOP’s ill-conceived impeachment and removal efforts, a lesson from which Democrats should learn.
Frankly, while it’s easy to see why Romney’s response is news, it’s tougher to explain why it should be. Too much of politics have become consumed with never-ending campaigns. Once the election is over, shouldn’t we all “call ’em like we see ’em”? Instead, we pay much more attention to style over substance and personality over policy. We shouldn’t ignore elements of performance in politicians, but we should put them in proper perspective until the next election.
Trump didn’t run for Chief Role Model of the United States, and he’s clearly uninterested in that job. Romney has the right attitude about that, and expressed it about as mildly as possible. Don’t be surprised if Utah voters find an affinity to that approach.