“Utah’s junior senator reminded us of why he couldn’t connect with most regular, working-class people,” Fox News host Laura Ingraham said Wednesday night. “They don’t like politicians who claim to be holier than thou when they’re really just sticking a shiv in your back.”
“He’s the ultimate selfish, preening, self-centered politician,” she added.
The tone and message of Ingraham’s monologue echoed widely across Fox News and conservative news outlets Wednesday as Trump’s supporters rushed to make an example out of Romney.
Critics viciously dissected Romney’s political career and cast him as a traitor who not only betrayed the president but also the Republican Party and his constituents in Utah.
Trump got in on the Romney bashing, tweeting a video that labeled the senator “a Democrat secret asset.” Late Wednesday, Trump lashed out at Romney again in another tweet, this time taking aim at the senator’s unsuccessful presidential run in 2012.
“Had failed presidential candidate @MittRomney devoted the same energy and anger to defeating a faltering Barack Obama as he sanctimoniously does to me, he could have won the election,” Trump wrote.
The president’s reaction, however, was mild in comparison to the attacks being mounted by his numerous supporters in conservative media.
Breitbart News, a right-wing media outlet, led its homepage with a column titled, “Mitt Romney stabbed American workers in the back long before he stabbed Trump."
“Anyone who has followed Mitt’s career could have seen this betrayal coming,” the column said. “This isn’t the first time he’s behaved like a bitter sanctimonious weasel when it comes to Donald Trump.”
The betrayal theme continued on Fox Business Network, where host Lou Dobbs said Romney would be “associated with Judas, Brutus, Benedict Arnold forever.”
Meanwhile, Fox News host Tucker Carlson couldn’t even bring himself to say Romney’s name on-air.
“That senator shall go unnamed on this show on the grounds that silly moral preening should not be rewarded with the publicity that it’s designed to garner,” Carlson said.
Following Carlson was Fox News host Sean Hannity, who introduced his viewers to a new nickname for Romney: “Pierre Defecto,” a play on the senator’s secret Twitter alias, “Pierre Delecto,” which became public last October.
“I know a lot of you, especially in Utah and around the country, are mad at Mitt tonight and you have every right to be,” Hannity said, slamming Romney’s arguments as “constitutionally incoherent.” “Frankly, it is sad. Mitt Romney is now a diminished figure. Clearly, losing a presidential election ruins people.”
Ingraham took her censure of Romney a step further, urging him to resign.
“If he were up for reelection this year, the people of Utah would have their own payback against him because they were defrauded by Romney,” she said, accusing the senator of choosing Democrats “over common sense and conservatism.”
Ingraham went as far as saying that she would move to Utah to run against Romney, if necessary.
“We won’t ever forget,” she said. “Utah should never forget.”
Though Romney won’t face reelection until 2024, that didn’t stop conservatives from arguing Wednesday that his vote to convict Trump marked the end of his time in politics.
“His career is done,” said former White House aide Sebastian Gorka on his radio show.
Romney has not publicly addressed the criticisms that poured forth Wednesday, but he told Fox News’s Chris Wallace ahead of the vote that he was prepared for the backlash.
“I know in my heart that I’m doing what is right,” the senator said. “I understand there’s going to be an enormous consequence. And I don’t have a choice in that regard.”