Utah Senator-elect Mitt Romney (R.) said he wouldn't run for president in 2020 on Wednesday and said he wanted to see who the "alternatives" potentially were to President Donald Trump.
Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, blasted Trump in a Washington Post op-ed Tuesday night for falling short of the mantle of the presidency due to his character defects. Trump responded that he wanted Romney to be a "team player." It was the latest salvo in the often acrid relationship between the Republican Party's last two presidential nominees.
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Romney told CNN's Jake Tapper he had hoped Trump would rise to the challenges of the office after winning in 2016, but he hadn't followed through on his promise to be presidential the way he had followed through on other promises.
Romney accepted Trump's endorsement in 2012, but in 2016, as Trump moved toward the nomination, Romney eviscerated him as a "phony" and "fraud" who wasn't worthy of the office. After Trump won, however, Romney met with him over potentially being named Trump's first secretary of state, and he later accepted Trump's endorsement of his successful 2018 run in Utah.
"He was endorsing me," Romney said. "I wasn't endorsing him, and I haven't decided who I'm going to endorse in 2020. I'm going to wait and see what the alternatives are."
After Tapper pointed out his colleague Sen. Mike Lee (R., Utah) had indicated he will endorse Trump's re-election, Romney repeated he wanted to see the alternatives.
"There are places where we agree on a whole series of policy fronts, but there are places that I think the president can, if you will, elevate his game, and do a better job to help bring us together as a nation," Romney said.
Romney ran for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008 and lost to Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.). He won the nomination in 2012 but lost the general election to President Barack Obama.
He said "no" when asked if he would potentially give the presidency another try.
"You may have heard, I ran before," he quipped. "I've had that experience. By the way, I acknowledge the president was successful, and I was not. He did something I couldn't do. He won, and I recognize that and appreciate that. But no, I'm not running again, and we'll see whether someone else does in a Republican primary or not, but time will tell."
Among the Republicans who could mount a 2020 primary challenge to Trump are outgoing Sen. Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.) and outgoing Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R.).
Trump tweeted Wednesday he hoped Romney would not be "a Flake" when he took office.
Here we go with Mitt Romney, but so fast! Question will be, is he a Flake? I hope not. Would much prefer that Mitt focus on Border Security and so many other things where he can be helpful. I won big, and he didn’t. He should be happy for all Republicans. Be a TEAM player & WIN!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2019