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Eyes on 2024: Romney talks Trump, Biden and his next steps

Romney did not rule out voting for President Joe Biden during an interview on Meet the Press.

By and

Retiring Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, joined “Meet the Press” on Sunday for a wide-ranging interview that included his thoughts on abortion policy, U.S. support for Ukraine, and addressing antisemitism and Islamophobia. And he also weighed in on Trump, Biden and the 2024 race.

On Trump’s ‘dictator’ comments: “Donald Trump is kind of a human gumball machine, which is a thought or a notion comes in, and it comes out of his mouth. There’s not a lot of filter that goes on … He just says whatever. I don’t attach an enormous amount of impact to the particular words that come out and trying to evaluate each one of them.”

More: “I do think you can look at his record as president, and particularly in the last months of his presidency, and say, ‘This is a dangerous approach. It’s an authoritarian approach.’ That gives me far more concern than — than him playing to the crowd as he did … There’s no question he has authoritarian rulings, and interests, and notions which he will try and impose. That’s dangerous for the country.”

On staying out of the GOP primary: “If I endorse someone, it would be the kiss of death … Look, Chris Christie has done a terrific job so far. I think his being in the race has kept Donald Trump from coming to — to the debates, because I think Donald Trump recognized if he went to the debate with Chris Christie, Chris Christie would reveal him for what he was, and — and Trump would be badly hurt, so he stayed out. But Nikki Haley, she’s rising. Right now, I think she’s the only one that has a shot at becoming the nominee other than President Trump.”

On consolidating the GOP primary: “I hope it continues to consolidate and it becomes, at some point, a two-person race. But even then, I think Donald Trump is the prohibitive favorite.”

On supporting Biden: “The Joe I would like to vote for is Joe Manchin. And I’m not going to tell you right now who I’m going to vote for. Fortunately for me, I’m in a state that’s not a swing state.” (Romney added that he did not think Manchin would run.)

Not ruling out voting for Biden: “I’m not going to describe who I’ll rule out, other than President Trump. I just, you have a setting where you have someone who’s too old and someone else who’s a little too nutty. And where are you going to vote on that basis? And, by the way, in my view, bad policy we can overcome as a country.”

On his next steps: “I will continue to work to keep America the hope of the earth and the hope of the people in this country. And whether that’s by lecturing in universities, or going around the country and speaking, or writing another book or two, or maybe just getting behind some of Ann’s ambitions these days. My wife is leading an extraordinary center for neurologic research.” 

In other campaign news … 

On the ground: Haley’s recent endorsement from Americans for Prosperity could boost her in Iowa, with AFP Action launching canvassing and digital ad campaign in the Hawkeye State, per NBC’s Natasha Korecki, who writes that Haley’s campaign “was missing the organizational strength of some of her competitors in Iowa.” 

On the airwaves: Haley’s campaign launched its second TV ad late last week, which focused on foreign policy and featured her husband, who is currently deployed with the South Carolina Army National Guard. 

She’s with him: Hillary Clinton “is stepping into a role as one of the most prominent and influential surrogates in Biden’s re-election effort,” write NBC’s Jonathan Allen, Peter Nicholas and Megan Lebowitz.

Out west: Biden traveled to Los Angeles over the weekend, where he and first Lady Jill Biden attended six fundraising events and meetings to boost his re-election bid. 

Battleground worries: Politico reports that Democrats are concerned that Biden’s campaign has been slow to hire staff in key battlegrounds, relying instead on the national and state parties and focusing its early spending on TV ads. 

Phillips’ ramped-up rhetoric: Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., has ramped up his criticisms of Biden in recent days, suggesting the president is a threat to democracy as two state parties bar Phillips from the primary ballot, per the Washington Post. 

Christie heads back to college: Chris Christie is urging college students in the Granite State to register and vote in the New Hampshire GOP primary, telling them, “Don’t count on Joe Biden to stop Donald Trump. Let’s stop Donald Trump now,” NBC’s Emma Barnett reports.

Shifting their stance: GOP Senate candidates in five battleground races have softened their stances on abortion since 2022, NBC’s Adam Edelman reports 

A helping hand: Former Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., plans to spend 2024 focusing on one goal — helping Democrats take back the House majority, the Washington Post reports. 

Headed to City Hall: Texas state Sen. John Whitmire, a Democrat, will be Houston’s next mayor after he bested Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee in a mayoral runoff election on Saturday.