After Utah Sen. Mitt Romney released a statement Wednesday saying that he is not seeking another term in office, his announcement generated a reaction across the national political spectrum.
The Republican senator said he will finish the rest of his term, which ends in January 2025, and try to advance Utah’s priorities, as the Deseret News reported.
Some praised him for his commitment to serving the country, while others celebrated his decision to not run for reelection.
Former House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican who was Romney’s running mate in the 2012 presidential election, called the Utah senator a “consummate American statesman.”
“There is no better man I have ever known. Mitt is principled and patriotic, a man of faith and character. He has served this nation with distinction and long been a ballast for Republican ideals,” said Ryan in a statement.
“His voice and his leadership will be sorely missed. But the Senate’s loss is the Romney family’s gain.”
Ryan added that he was thrilled for Romney to enjoy the new chapter with his wife, Ann Romney, and grateful for the senator’s service to the country.
Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he was fortunate to call his colleague from Utah a friend and was sorry to hear about his departure from the Senate.
“The U.S. Senate is known to attract bright and proven public servants. However, we rarely get to welcome new senators already as accomplished and well-regarded as Mitt Romney. The Senate has been fortunate to call our friend from Utah a colleague these past four and a half years, and I am sorry to learn that he will depart our ranks at the end of next year,” McConnell said in a statement.
“The junior senator for Utah has made remarkably efficient use of his brief tenure in the Senate to deliver on important promises to people he represents — from sensible management of America’s public lands to reduced reliance on China for critical supply chains.”
Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump, the front-runner in the GOP primary race for president in 2024, said Romney’s announcement was “fantastic news” for the country, the Republican Party, and the state of Utah.
“Mitt Romney, sometimes referred to as Pierre Delecto, will not be seeking a second term in the US Senate, where he did not serve with distinction,” he said.
“A big primary fight against him was in the offing, but now that will not be necessary. Congrats to all. Make America Great Again!” he wrote in an all-upper-case post on Truth Social.
Trump’s reaction doesn’t come as a surprise, especially given Romney’s criticism of the former president and his vote to convict the former president in two impeachment hearings, as the Deseret News reported.
Only one candidate — Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs — has officially launched his campaign for Romney’s seat. Meanwhile, Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson launched an exploratory committee earlier this year.
David Axelrod, the former senior adviser to former president Barack Obama and the director of the Institute of Politics, said on social media that he also disagreed with Romney on some issues, but he said he respected the senator’s “courage, decency, long and distinguished service and palpable commitment to our country.”
“He will be greatly missed but his parting message today about passing the torch offers a powerful example,” he added.
Axelrod was referring to Romney’s comment about allowing “a new generation of leaders” to step in.
“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,” Romney said in his announcement. “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 also said that “neither President Biden nor former President Trump are leading their party to confront” issues of the rising national debt and immigration.