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National poll shows Mitt Romney still on the radar as 2024 GOP presidential candidate

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, is flanked by his staff with reporters following a break in former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, at the Capitol in Washington on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021.
J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Sen. Mitt Romney would pick up some votes if the 2024 Republican presidential primary election were held today, according a new national poll.

The Politico/Morning Consult flash poll found Romney would get 4% of the vote, tying him with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Former President Donald Trump dwarfs all potential candidates in the survey with 53% of Republicans saying they would vote for him. Other than former Vice President Mike Pence at 12%, all other GOP hopefuls polled in the single digits. Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Donald Trump Jr. each had 6% in the poll of 1,984 registered Republican voters conducted Feb. 14-15.

Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, has repeatedly said he would not run for president a third time. He also ran in 2008, losing the nomination to the late Arizona Sen. John McCain.

While Romney was often on the same page as Trump regarding policy, he didn’t shy away from calling him out, especially when it came to matters of character.

But as Trump’s most outspoken critic in the Senate GOP, Romney’s name continues to come up as a 2024 presidential candidate. He has also said he doesn’t know where the Republican Party is headed and that he represents only a tiny slice of it anymore.

Republican voters got over any misgivings they had about Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 incursion at the U.S. Capitol very quickly, according to Politico.

The poll showed 59% of Republican voters want Trump to play a major role in their party going forward. That’s up 18 percentage points from a Morning Consult poll on Jan. 7, and an increase of 9 points from a follow-up poll on Jan. 25, before the impeachment trial began.

In 2016, Romney endorsed the conservative Cruz just before Utah’s presidential preference caucus as the best choice to keep Trump from winning the GOP nomination outright. Cruz handily won the caucus vote, taking all 40 of the state’s national delegates.

Cruz and Romney were on opposite sides on whether it was constitutional for the Senate to hold an impeachment trial of a former president and on the vote to convict Trump. Romney voted for conviction and Cruz for acquittal in the 57-43 vote.

Romney has not revealed if he will run for a second term in the Senate in 2024. He would likely face a primary as he did in 2018 or have a hard time getting out of convention at all in Utah, where delegates tend to be more conservative than rank-and-file Republican voters.

A Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll last month found 64% of Republicans in the state disapprove of his job performance, including half who strongly disapprove.

Romney faces backlash among far-right Republicans in the state for his decision to convict Trump a second time after being impeached by the House. Romney was the only GOP senator who voted to remove Trump from office in 2020.

A petition to censure Romney is making the rounds on social media. But Utah Republican Party leaders have no plans to condemn his vote, saying in a statement Monday that it’s looking neither to the past nor to be punitive.

Utah GOP leaders said Sen. Mike Lee, who voted to acquit Trump, also was criticized for his decision.