Sen. Rand Paul is in President Donald Trump’s corner and he came out swinging Wednesday against Mitt Romney after he wrote an op-ed critical of the commander-in-chief.
The Kentucky Republican took aim at the newly-elected Utah Republican and former 2012 presidential candidate in a phone call with reporters and claimed Romney is “sour grapes” over his own political career. He added that the outburst against Trump is not productive for the Republican party.
“When you take the time to attack someone’s character … That’s a pretty harsh critique of a person as opposed to policy,” Paul said.
Responding to a critical op-ed by the Utah Republican, Trump tweeted Wednesday that the incoming Utah senator — and 2012 Republican presidential candidate — should be more respectful.
“Would much prefer that Mitt focus on Border Security and so many other things where he can be helpful,” Trump said. “I won big, and he didn’t. He should be happy for all Republicans. Be a TEAM player & WIN!”
In an op-ed published by the Washington Post, Romney said Trump’s leadership is unnecessarily dividing Americans and alienating allies. He questioned Trump’s character, and said he has not “risen to the mantle of the office.”
“I will speak out against significant statements or actions that are divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest or destructive to democratic institutions,” Romney wrote.
Romney welcomed Trump’s support for his own presidential bid in 2012. He later criticized Trump when the New York businessman successfully sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
After winning the 2016 election, Trump interviewed Romney for Secretary of State, but was not selected for the position.
Paul, who has become a close ally and advocate of the president’s agenda, said he stays close to the president.
“I keep good relations with him,” Paul said. “I treat the president with dignity, I treat the president with respect.”
But a look back at Paul’s past tweets and public comments on Trump shows otherwise.
In 2016, on Comedy Central’s “The Nightly Show,” Paul said Trump was a “delusional narcissist and an orange-faced windbag.”
In another 2016 comment, Paul tweeted a poll that asked: “Would you rather elect Trump, or be forced to listen to Nickelback for a four year term?”
Paul did not address any comments about his tweets during the phone call.
With former Arizona senators John McCain and Jeff Flake out of Washington, it appears Romney is picking up the mantel. Paul said he hoped his criticisms were short lived.
“It’s virtue signaling. ‘Look at me, how virtuous I am.’ Does not serve a useful purpose. I hope this will be a one-off,” Paul said.
Written by Thomas Novelly. Cross-posted from the
Courier-Journal via the Kentucky Press News Service.