After a long and illustrious career in politics, Mitt Romney has decided to call it quits.
The former governor of Massachusetts and senator of Utah announced his retirement today, saying that he wants to spend more time with his family and pursue other interests. “I have spent my last 25 years in public service of one kind or another. At the end of another term, I’d be in my mid-eighties. Frankly, it’s time for a new generation of leaders. They’re the ones that need to make the decisions that will shape the world they will be living in,” Romney said in a statement.
Romney, who ran for president twice and was the Republican nominee in 2012, said that he is proud of his achievements and grateful for the support he received from millions of Americans.
He also thanked his colleagues and friends in both parties for their cooperation and friendship. Romney said that he will continue to speak out on issues that matter to him, such as democracy, human rights, and national security, but he will not seek any public office again. He expressed his optimism for the future of the country and urged Americans to work together to solve the challenges they face.
Romney’s retirement marks the end of an era for the GOP, as he was one of the most prominent and respected figures in the party. He was also known for his moderate and pragmatic views, which often clashed with the more conservative and populist wing of the party. He was widely considered as a voice of reason in the midst of out-of-control partisanship and a check on Trumpism.
Romney’s departure leaves a void in the Republican leadership, as well as a question of who will fill his role as a voice of civility in a polarized political landscape.
The 76-year-old senator’s reelection deliberations have largely centered on whether he would be able to continue tackling big issues over another six-year term. But he said Wednesday he didn’t believe either President Joe Biden or former President Donald Trump were willing to confront big challenges like climate change and the debt.
In an interview last week, Romney said he still hadn’t decided. Colleagues in both parties, from Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), had encouraged him to run.
Romney entered the Senate with far more buzz than the typical freshman, and he hasn’t disappointed in terms of risk-taking and deal-cutting. Romney was the only GOP senator to support convicting former President Donald Trump at his first impeachment trial, temporarily isolating him in the conference until six of his colleagues joined him in voting to convict Trump during his second trial.
During the first two years of Joe Biden’s presidency he was a key member of the Senate’s bipartisan groups and played a central role in the infrastructure law. He also supported bipartisan compromises on gun safety, marriage equality and microchip manufacturing despite other conservative votes during his time in the Senate.
In an increasingly ultra-right Republican party, and as a result of what Trump supporters see as his disloyalty, Romney almost certainly would have faced a primary challenge had he run again, though his approval rating in the party had ticked upward recently.
His statement that it is time to hand the baton of leadership to a younger generation resonates particularly strongly at a time when the debate about term limits has heated up again. Much has been written lately in relation to the age, health and cognitive capability of Senators Mitch McConnell, Dianne Feinstein and Representative Nancy Pelosi in particular, as well as President Biden and Donald Trump. It is refreshing to see that there are at least some older politicians who are willing to step aside to make room for younger and fitter leaders.
The comment posted by one Yahoo user encapsulates the sentiment of many: “I applaud that. Many many many more should follow his brave lead and yield the floor to a long due new generation of leaders. Terms terms terms…that’s what the people want.”
While another concurred with: “This is how it’s done. Don’t have to agree on his politics, but it’s a good example that so many others these days need to follow. Thanks Mitt, appreciate the rare display of leadership.”