The reaction came during a Utah Republican Party organizing convention, where the state's GOP voted down a censure of Romney

By Virginia Chamlee
May 03, 2021 01:57 PM
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Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney
| Credit: Rick Bowmer/AP/Shutterstock

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney said he was unfazed by the booing of a large crowd of Republicans over the weekend for his votes in favor of convicting Donald Trump following the Jan. 6 Capitol riots and for Trump's role in the Ukraine scandal in 2020.

A vote to censure Romney also narrowly failed — with some members of the GOP saying the behavior toward Romney, a former Republican presidential nominee, was "appalling."

The boos — contrasted by cheers from others in the audience — came during a Utah Republican Party organizing convention, where the state's GOP voted on a resolution to censure Romney, 74, for his two votes in favor of convicting Trump at the latter's two impeachment trials.

Though the vote to censure ultimately failed 711-798, CNN reported that many members of the audience jeered and booed the Republican during his speech, particularly when he brought up the former president.

"Aren't you embarrassed?" Romney asked the crowd as they derided him in his entry to the stage, according to the Salt Lake City Tribune. "I'm a man who says what he means, and you know I was not a fan of our last president's character issues."

As the crowd continued to boo, some audience members went so far as to call Romney a "traitor" and a "communist," the Tribune reported.

"Oh yeah, you can boo all you like, but I've been a Republican all my life," Romney said in response. "My dad was a governor of Michigan, my dad worked for Republican candidates that he believed in. I worked for Republicans across the country and, if you don't recall, I was the Republican nominee for president in 2012."

He continued, again being met with a mix of boos and cheers: "Yeah, I understand I have a few folks who don't like me terribly much and I— I'm sorry about that. But I express my mind as I believe is right and I follow my conscience as I believe is right."

Speaking to CNN's Jake Tapper on State of the Union on Sunday, Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins said she was "appalled" to see that Republicans had booed Romney.

She added that Republicans "need to have room for a variety of views. We are not a party that is led by just one person."

Like Romney, Collins joined with Democrats in voting to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial, though the former president was ultimately acquitted.

Speaking from the floor of the Senate in February 2020, Romney broke ranks with his conservative colleagues and announced he would vote to convict Trump in Trump's first impeachment trial

"I believe that attempting to corrupt an election to maintain power is about as egregious an assault on the Constitution as can be made and for that reason, it is a high crime and misdemeanor," Romney said in his speech explaining his vote to remove Trump from office. "I have no choice under the oath that I took but to express that conclusion."

Romney was then the only Republican senator to vote against the sitting president — for which Trump mocked him as a "Republican in Name Only."

When Trump went on to face impeachment a second time, earlier this year, in the wake of the U.S. Capitol attack on Jan. 6, Romney also voted to convict. He released a statement in which he said the former president "attempted to corrupt the election by pressuring the Secretary of State of Georgia to falsify the election results in his state."

In March, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation announced it would award Romney its Profile in Courage Award for his 2020 impeachment vote, which made him the only Republican senator who found the former president guilty of abuse of power.

Romney will formally receive the award at a virtual ceremony in May.

He is not the only Republican to face blowback for breaking with Trump: Other conservative lawmakers who voted in favor of Trump's impeachment or conviction were subsequently censured.

Despite Romney's feelings toward the former president, he recently said he expects that Trump "will continue to play a role in" the Republican Party going forward.

"He has by far the largest voice and a big impact in my party," he said in an interview with The New York Times in February. "I expect he will continue playing a role. I don't know if he'll run in 2024 or not, but if he does I'm pretty sure he will win the nomination."