The Chair of the Conservative Political Action Conference has made news this week by not only saying that Sen. Mitt Romney (R, Utah) was not welcomed at the annual conference, but that the former Republican presidential nominee could be in danger of being being assaulted in such venues. Matt Schlapp said that ” I’d actually be afraid for his physical safety, people are so mad at him.” I recently wrote a Washington Post column defending Romney but the attacks have continued, including an attack by President Donald Trump last night at a campaign rally. It appears that the “Big Tent” party of Ronald Reagan has become a pup tent of exclusion.
In an interview Saturday on “Full Court Press” with Greta Van Susteren, Schlapp added that Romney’s vote was reprehensible: “When he needed a conservative like Donald Trump to endorse him in his Senate primary last time, he wanted him in. But then, when he gets the Senate job, he wants to distance himself from Trump. He’s a use-’em-and-lose-’em kind of guy.”
In fairness to Schlapp, he was not saying that he felt such a violent urge against Romney but that he believed some might harbor such urges after his Senate vote. He was expressing his concern for his safety and he may be right.
The Republican party has long had its famous and inspiring dissenters. Their opposition to aspects of the Party or its leadership was not necessarily correct on the merits, but the party once proudly cited the breadth and scope of its memberships. The statement that Romney is not just unwelcome but could be in physical jeopardy is a chilling statement about the state of our politics. As I wrote recently, there are similar threats being voiced from the other side, though this is a view of one of the main political organizations associated with the Republican party.
Romney voted against one article of impeachment and in favor of another. He did so out of his deep-seated beliefs not just in the case but his religion. That does not mean that he was right, but it means that he did the right thing. When did the party get so small, that there is no room for such a man?