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Mitt Romney warns Trump is ‘by far the most likely’ GOP nominee in 2024

The Republican senator from Utah said a crowded presidential primary would most likely help Trump, and he vowed not to support the former president if he is the nominee.
Mitt Romney during a Senate Homeland and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing in Washington
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, at a Homeland and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing in Washington on Sept. 14. Al Drago / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — Sen. Mitt Romney is warning his fellow Republicans that former President Donald Trump is best-positioned to emerge from a crowded primary as the party's presidential nominee in 2024 and that the only way to stop him is to ultimately shrink the field to a one-on-one contest against a viable alternative.

“I think President Trump is by far the most likely to become our nominee,” the Republican senator from Utah said in the Capitol on Wednesday. “If there’s an alternative to that, it would be only realistic if it narrows down to a two-person race at some point.”

Romney's warnings came after former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley announced her bid for the GOP nomination on Wednesday, with other candidates expected to jump in in the coming months. Some Trump-skeptical Republicans fear that a crowded field could split the vote and pave the way for Trump to carry the party's banner for the third presidential election in a row.

“There’s always a personal interest on the part of the campaign — particularly the campaign staff, and consultants, as well as the candidate — to stay in. And to say, ‘Hey, look, I came in second. So I’m the person that really ought to get the nomination four years from now,’” Romney said. “And so it really is up to the donors and and other influence people that know the candidate, his family or her family, to say, ‘Hey, time to move on.’”

The GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee, Romney has since taken on an elder statesman role. Elected to the Senate in 2018, he's been an outspoken critic of the former president and became the only Republican in either chamber to vote to impeach or convict Trump in both his impeachment proceedings.

Romney, who tried unsuccessfully in the 2016 primary to stop Trump from winning the nomination, downplayed his own ability to keep him away from the prize again in 2024.

“I’m just a lowly senator from Utah,” he quipped. “I can’t stop anybody.”

If Trump wins the nomination, Romney said, “I won’t be supporting President Trump.” Asked if he'd consider supporting President Joe Biden in a potential 2024 rematch, Romney added, “Very unlikely.”

Romney is a rare Republican to rule out supporting Trump in 2024. Others, like New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, have kept the door open to supporting Trump or whomever the nominee is.

Ahead of Haley's campaign launch, McConnell predicted “a vigorous primary with a number of candidates” whom Republican voters will have to choose between.

“It’s going to be very, very competitive, the primaries, and we’ll hope for the best," McConnell told reporters. "And obviously I’m going to support whoever the nominee is.”