With just a few short weeks to go before voters head to the polls to decide who gets to control Congress, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) appeared on Tucker Carlson’s program Tuesday night to discuss the state of his reelection battle in the midst of what is clearly a growing rift between Lee and fellow Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney over Romney’s refusal to make an endorsement in the race on “friendship” grounds.
During their exchange, Lee told Carlson that though he respects Romney, what he’s doing in effect is giving “tacit assistance” to failed 2016 Independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin, who is Lee’s main opponent and who Lee correctly described as a Democrat who pretends to be an independent voice (sort of like Tim Ryan is doing in Ohio) even as McMullin’s campaign is being heavily funded through various Democratic dark money arms and has also been endorsed by Utah Democrats:
“I don’t think Mitt Romney wants Chuck Schumer to continue to be the Senate Majority Leader,” Lee said. “If I am right on that, he needs to get on board because that’s exactly what he will be producing. That’s exactly what this will lead to if Utah gets tricked into electing Evan McMullin, a closeted Democrat, into the United States Senate. So as soon as Mitt Romney is ready to, I will eagerly accept his endorsement. He has a big family, I encourage all of them to go to leeforsenate.com and make donations to my campaign. Evan McMullin is raising millions of dollars off of Act Blue, a Democratic donor database based on this idea that he is going to defeat me and help perpetuate the Democratic majority.”
“It doesn’t help to have the tacit assistance of my Republican colleague from Utah,” Lee said of Romney. “It’s noteworthy here that all 48 of my other Republican colleagues are on board with me, have supported me, have supported my campaign, and have endorsed me.”
Relatedly, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who is a close friend of Lee’s, made a recent appearance on Sean Hannity’s program where the topic under discussion was the GOP’s prospects for winning the Senate. At one point, the subject turned to the Utah Senate race and McMullin, who Hannity called a “Romney Republican.” Hannity also said he hoped Utahns were “smart enough” to see right through McMullin’s phony act.
Though Cruz nodded along at Hannity’s commentary, he didn’t call McMullin a “Romney Republican” himself. But an obviously triggered McMullin took to the Twitter machine to claim he did anyway:
Cruz then fired back, telling McMullin that he was actually worse than a “Romney Republican”:
Cruz and Lee are of course right here. McMullin’s sordid history has been well-documented and if you look in the dictionary next to the words “fraud” and “obnoxious,” McMullin’s picture is (or should be) right next to them. That’s about all I have to say about him.
But as for Mitt Romney, though his “neutral” stance in this race is predictable it doesn’t make it any less shameful. Considering not only the hell Democrats put him and his family through in 2012 when he was the GOP presidential nominee but also the far left track Democrats are on, Romney really ought to grow a pair and throw his support behind Lee.
But Romney simply can’t, because he’s so desperate for Democrat/media acceptance, to be seen as the “moderate” voice in a sea full of partisans, that he’d rather sit this one out than give Lee an assist.
That said, perhaps it’s for the best that Romney doesn’t. Despite what Lee’s critics are saying about him allegedly being so “desperate” for support that he’d call out Romney, Lee so far has been doing just fine without it, leading in all the polls taken in this race by outside-the-margin-of error numbers. Plus, at last check Romney was more popular with Democrats than Republicans in the state anyway, and an endorsement of Lee could have the potential to backfire.
What’s likely the real story here is that Lee really isn’t seeking out Romney’s endorsement at all. He’s just reiterating to Utah voters that it doesn’t sound like Romney has the best interests of his state at heart, which is an inconvenient truth that could come back to haunt Romney in a future reelection battle of his own should he decide to run again.