A Washington Post report Friday night offers a window into President Donald Trump’s often tense relationship with former Massachusetts governor and frequent critic Mitt Romney.
The tension reportedly even boils down to how Romney’s niece, RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel, ended up dropping her maiden name in public settings. Nowadays, it is generally absent in Republican Party news releases and social-media accounts.
WaPo notes a specific request from Trump earlier this year for McDaniel to stop using her maiden name publicly as she took over as RNC Chair. Advisers said the request happened when Trump told others that mention of the name Romney “often prompted boos at his events.”
A senior Trump administration official and adviser told WaPo the President was “pleased” when McDaniel mostly stopped using the Romney moniker.
McDaniel’s maiden name drop is just one piece of the puzzle in the strife between Trump and Mitt Romney. WaPo mentions Trump’s snub of Romney’s reported consideration of a Senate run by indicating that he would support Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) if the senator decided to run for re-election.
Although Romney has yet to announce a Senate run, one conservative strategist who spoke anonymously to WaPo expressed that “if elected, Mitt Romney would take the role as America’s number one ‘never Trumper.’”
Similar sentiments were echoed when sources close to Romney told TPM in October that while he was initially not keen on a Senate run, the retirements of Trump-critical Sens. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Bob Corker (R-TN) and John McCain’s (R-AZ) ongoing health problems have left a void Romney thinks desperately needs to be filled.
The strategist also anticipated that a Romney run would mean “a full-on carpet bombing from conservatives coming his way.”
Earlier this week at a rally for Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore, former White House adviser Steve Bannon attacked Romney by alleging he hid behind his religion to avoid in the Vietnam War. However, top Utah GOP lawmakers clapped back at Bannon’s remarks.
Officials at the White House and RNC declined WaPo’s request for comment on the exchange between Trump and McDaniel on dropping her maiden name.
Cassie Smedile, a GOP spokeswoman for McDaniel, called the fuss over the matter “silly” as she pointed to recent fundraiser invites in which the RNC had used McDaniel’s full name, while claiming there was no internal prohibition on using Romney.
The White House also declined WaPo’s request for comment.
“The president has full confidence in the chairwoman who has led the Republican Party toward record-breaking fundraising,” White House spokesperson Raj S. Shah told WaPo.