Romney certainly won’t be a sellout to the White House, and he won’t be intimidated by President Trump. But it remains to be seen whether Romney is tempted to simply pick up where Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who is retiring, left off, or if his role in the party will be more constructive. The GOP needs honest voices and Trump deserves plenty of criticism from within the GOP. But we need messengers without the Flake-like sanctimony or pandering to the mainstream media.
Romney perfectly illustrates today’s Republican conundrum vis-a-vis President Trump. In 2016, Romney was spot on when he said about then-candidate Trump, “Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing the members of the American public for suckers.” Conversely, Romney did the right thing when he showed a willingness to be Trump’s secretary of state. Republicans must balance telling the truth and being helpful to the cause at the same time. It is not easy. Maybe Romney can become something of a “therapist in chief” for the GOP.
For six years in the Senate Romney will have a safe platform to play an important role in speaking for many in the Republican Party. A lot of people will be interested in seeing how he, as an important Republican, orients himself toward Trump’s reelection. Many in the GOP will want to follow his lead.
When Romney is sworn in next year, he will bring stature to the Senate and an articulate voice to the Republican Party at a time when we need more of both. He can present an honest and credible Republican face to those voters who are often discouraged by Trump despite a good economy and some positive policy results. Romney can give clarity to what it means to be a Republican at a time when there is growing uncertainty. I was never a big Romney fan, but he will be a force for good in the GOP and for the country. Republicans should be eager to hear what he has to say and to closely follow what observations he will have about the viability and credibility of the Trump presidency and any dangers associated with it.