Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) appeared critical of reports that 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is considering a run for Senate, in the wake of Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) announcing his retirement on Tuesday.
When questioned about his thoughts regarding a prospective Romney bid by Fox News’ Neil Cavuto, Paul appeared dismissive.
“I’ve met Mitt Romney before, I don’t know if in Utah they’d hold it against him that he was the Governor of another state across the country – a lot of those things would have to be decided over time.”
Although most commentators believe Romney will easily get the nomination if he chooses to run, Paul suggested there could be an upset, noting that Utah is “a very competitive Republican state so I’d assume there would be severe people joining the fray.”
“A lot of times their primary is actually a convention where only a couple of thousand people so a lot of times conservatives have a bigger impact in Utah than in many places because the conservative activists are the ones who a lot of times show up for their conventions,” Paul continued.
Asked if he believed Romney was a conservative, Paul noted that, “a lot of people said Obamacare was based on Romneycare in Massachusetts that was very expensive and a government directed health care plan that most conservatives don’t agree with.”
“Some aspects, particularly of Romneycare, are really aspects of big government health care that might not fit real well with conservatives in Utah,” Paul stated.
Paul, an anti-establishment constitutionalist, is generally regarded to represent an opposing wing of the Republican Party from Romney, a long-time party grandee from a blue blood background. Paul’s father, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), ran against Romney in the 2012 presidential primary and frequently suggested that Romney was insufficiently conservative. Although Rand Paul did go on to endorse and campaign for Romney after the latter won the GOP primary, and attended some of Romney’s fundraising events while scoping out his own presidential campaign, his remarks suggest that old divides between the two men are once again coming to the fore, especially as Paul has increasingly aligned himself with President Donald Trump, who sought to block Romney’s candidacy by urging Hatch to run for re-election.