NYT: Romney texted pal, "I'm running"

Yes, but what emojis did Mitt Romney include in his text? According to the New York Times’ Jonathan Martin, the former Massachusetts governor has decided to run for Orrin Hatch’s seat in 2018.

A few days after Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah announced that he would conclude his tenure after serving 42 years in office, the state’s governor, Gary Herbert, was growing anxious about whether Mitt Romney would run for the seat.

“Let’s not be coy about this,” Mr. Herbert said he told a close Romney friend and prominent business leader, Kem Gardner. “If he’s going to run, let’s go. If not, we need to find somebody else to run, and there’s people that have been trying to queue up for the opportunity.”

Last Saturday, Mr. Gardner called the governor and read from a text that Mr. Romney had offered: “I’m running.”

CNN wonders how Romney would impact Trump’s trajectory. Will he become a “counterweight” to Trump in the Senate? Er …

Exactly how would Romney counter-weigh Trump? Perhaps Romney might serve as a scold on tone, but that’s about it. In truth, Trump and the GOP on Capitol Hill share the same agenda to a large extent, and it’s Trump that has signaled that he’d follow the Republican-controlled Congress on policy rather the other way around.

Romney would probably be less likely to play along with Trump’s scatalogical observations about American allies by pretending that reports of him saying “s***hole” are false because Trump actually said “s***house,” as if that makes any difference to the issue at hand. Hence today’s somewhat indirect subtweet aimed at Trump:

Easy enough to do as a non-candidate, and as a non-Senator. Would Romney get even this tough on Trump as one of 100 in the upper chamber, though? Maybe Romney would make the choice to play along too, knowing that Trump has to stay in the game in order to advance their shared agenda. When it came time to run for election, Romney certainly adopted the persona of others enough to brag about being “severely conservative” and jolly donors along with talk of the “47 percent.” Romney mainly adapts to the currents — he doesn’t push back against them.

Still, hope springs eternal in the Senate GOP breast:

Senate Republicans are eager for Mitt Romney to succeed retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), with some hoping he will emerge as an independent counterweight to President Trump.

The midterm election is shaping up as a referendum on Trump’s first two years in office — a dynamic that could endanger GOP control of the Senate, given that the president’s approval rating has hovered around 35 percent.

Some Senate Republicans worry that Trump is coloring the GOP brand in a way that could hurt their party’s future prospects, even though they largely support his agenda and are thrilled about his role in helping to pass a major tax bill.

Well … yeah. This is an example of the silliness of the Romney-as-counterweight argument. The existing Senate Republican caucus doesn’t want to do it for themselves because they’re largely getting everything they want. If Romney gets elected, how that will be any different? Why would he undermine his own party’s president when Trump is signing everything they produce? The problem for Republicans in 2017, remember, isn’t that Trump is blocking their legislative efforts — it’s that Republicans in the House and Senate can’t agree to fulfill the promises they’ve made to voters for years. Romney only adds to the potential for disagreement to the extent he wants to be a counterweight at all. He has value in the Senate, but it’s not going to be as the Anti-Trump.

The only way Republicans can create a “counterweight” to Trump would be a primary challenge in 2020, and Romney’s exactly the wrong man for that job. Having Romney in the Senate will provide a little stability in Hatch’s absence and save the GOP some funds for candidate development that can be used in more competitive seats in 2018. As for him being the savior of the GOP brand, 2012 is calling and they want their eye-roll emoji back.