But it is an open secret in Washington that they have many fellow travelers: Republican traditionalists who privately despise Trump, and may well convict him if only the vote could be held by secret ballot, but dare not speak out for fear of retribution from rightwing media and increasingly radicalized state parties. This can take the form of primary election challenges, heckling in public places and even death threats.
Charlie Sykes, editor-at-large of the Bulwark website and author of How the Right Lost Its Mind, said: “I would hate to see what the mailbox of someone like a Mitt Romney is. We’ll see more scenes of folks harassing the moderates at airports but, within the leadership ranks, they understand what the stakes are. I’m guessing that rather a large number of senators share Romney’s view and are probably telling him that they wish they could say the same thing.”
This well of tacit sympathy is one reason why Romney and other senators are unlikely to face personal hostility from colleagues. Another is that, with the Senate evenly split at 50-50 – the Democratic vice-president, Kamala Harris, holds the tie-breaking vote – Republicans cannot afford to ostracize or alienate any members.