President Trump hit back at Republican Sen.-elect Mitt Romney of Utah for his criticisms Wednesday, saying he hopes Mr. Romney isn’t a new “Flake” who will be attacking the president within the GOP.
“Here we go with Mitt Romney, but so fast!” Mr. Trump tweeted. “Question will be, is he a Flake? I hope not.”
It was a reference to retiring Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, who has often criticized Mr. Trump’s actions and hasn’t ruled out a primary challenge against the president in 2020.
In an op-ed in The Washington Post, the newly elected Mr. Romney said Mr. Trump “has not risen to the mantle of the office.” He said the president has gone into a “deep descent” in the past month.
Mr. Trump said he would “much prefer that Mitt focus on Border Security and so many other things where he can be helpful.”
“I won big, and he didn’t. He should be happy for all Republicans. Be a TEAM player & WIN!” the president tweeted, apparently referring to Mr. Romney’s loss in the presidential election of 2012 to President Barack Obama.
SEE ALSO: Mitt Romney Washington Post op-ed assails Donald Trump
Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said the truth is that Mr. Romney “lacked the ability to save this nation,” while Mr. Trump “has saved it.”
“Jealously is a drink best served warm and Romney just proved it. So sad, I wish everyone had the courage @realDonaldTrump had,” Mr. Parscale tweeted.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Trump ally, said Mr. Romney’s move is “kind of sad.”
“You can’t take Trump on inside his own party. It’s not possible,” Mr. Gingrich said on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends.” “He’ll just plain lose.”
He suggested nevertheless that Mr. Romney intends to be a persistent critic of the president.
“I think Romney has always wanted to be president,” Mr. Gingrich said. “I think he’d like to be president now. I suspect every morning when Romney gets up, he gets angry just because Trump is so different than he is.”
SEE ALSO: Brad Parscale, Trump campaign manager, fires back at Mitt Romney after Washington Post op-ed
But Mr. Gingrich said the new senator’s decision makes no sense politically.
“From Romney’s own standpoint, I don’t understand strategically why you would try to carve out being the anti-Trump before you’re even sworn in as a freshman,” he said. “The Senate doesn’t care who you used to be. He needs to learn how the Senate works. It makes him look like he wants to rush into being in the minority in the Republican Party.”