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Opinion ANALYSIS: Clinton and Romney are ghosts of campaigns past for 2020 field

16:15  23 october  2019
16:15  23 october  2019 Source:   washingtonexaminer.com

They bonded over football years ago. Now President Trump sees Mitt Romney as his harshest GOP foe.

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Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

Mitt Romney, Hillary Clinton are posing for a picture© Provided by MediaDC: Washington Newspaper Publishing Company, Inc.

The two most recent failed major party presidential nominees, Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney, seem determined to leave their mark on the 2020 election.

While American presidential campaigns are usually about the future, they appear set on litigating the past, railing against President Trump at a time when Clinton supporters believe she should be completing her first term in the White House and Romney is doubtless reflecting on his lost dream of nearing the end of his second.

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Clinton, 71, the defeated 2016 Democratic nominee against Trump, waded into her party's 2020 presidential primary race with an incendiary allegation that Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard was a "Russian asset" being groomed to be a third-party spoiler candidate. Gabbard fired back by calling Clinton “the queen of warmongers.”

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

The comments prompted a variety of responses from Gabbard’s primary competitors, with some defending Gabbard and others seeming reluctant to directly criticize the former 2016 presidential nominee, still a force within the Democratic Party along with her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

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Former Housing Secretary Julián Castro said he had "a lot of respect for Secretary Clinton" and "would just leave it at that.” California Sen. Kamala Harris said with a laugh that “everyone is entitled to their opinion.”

The responses demonstrated the power of Clinton’s opinion even though she no longer holds any official position within the party. But her willingness to comment on the 2020 race’s dynamics frustrated some Democrats.

“For the most part, it was a bad choice of words," said Democratic strategist Steve Murphy.

“If you want to play a role in this race, keep your criticism focused on the president,” Brad Bannon, another Democratic strategist, said.

Romney, 72, who has made headlines for admitting to operating a secret Twitter account under the name “Pierre Delecto,” has become a de facto leader for anti-Trump Republicans heading into 2020. It is another dizzying switch by Romney, who sought and received Trump's endorsement in 2012, bitterly denounced him before the 2016 election, and then sought to become his secretary of state, after consulting with Clinton, when Trump won.

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The 2012 Republican nominee, now the junior senator for Utah after serving as Massachusetts governor from 2003 to 2007, is more candid about his views of Trump, in part because he does not need to worry about harming his reelection prospects in deep-red Utah.

Romney said this month that he found Trump’s calls for China and Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden “wrong and appalling,” prompting the president to tweet, “ #IMPEACHMITTROMNEY.” Following the release of the Mueller report in April, Romney said he was “ sickened” and “appalled” by Trump’s actions. He said he is not planning to endorse anyone in the 2020 presidential race, including Trump, in the primary or the general election.

Frustrated with Trump’s presidency and the choice of candidates in the crowded Democratic presidential field, supporters of Romney and Clinton have even fantasized about the former nominees launching new presidential bids.

Anthony Scaramucci, who was Trump's White House communications director for 11 days, tweeted a link to buy “Commit to Mitt” shirts urging the senator to jump into the 2020 race. Unnamed Democratic donors recently wondered whether it was too late for Clinton to enter the Democratic field in light of Joe Biden’s poor fundraising and struggle to gain momentum.

Romney says that he is not “leading a wing of the party,” since there are so few Republicans who publicly agree with him. But he appears to recognize his role in speaking up and the political advantages in other Republicans keeping quiet.

He said this week that other Republicans who disagree with Trump privately but not publicly “genuinely believe, as I do, that conservative principles are better for our country and for the working people of our country than liberal principles and that if Elizabeth Warren were to become president, for instance, or if we were to lose the Senate, that it would not be good for the American people.”

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Senate Republicans aren’t expected to break with Trump, but a handful of lawmakers could feel pressure to do so.While it’s pretty unlikely enough Republican Senators will actually vote to convict President Donald Trump if articles of impeachment are brought against him, members who represent swing states, such as Susan Collins, might feel pressure to defect due to pushback from their constituents. Others, like Mitt Romney, have vocalized opposition to the president in the past and are among the most likely to do so again.

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