Romney vs. Romney: RNC's McDaniel hits uncle Mitt for attacking Trump

The Detroit News
Ronna Romney McDaniel is chairwoman of the Republican National Committee

Republican National Committee chair Ronna Romney McDaniel criticized her uncle, incoming Utah U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, on Wednesday for attacking President Donald Trump's character in a commentary.

"To a great degree, a presidency shapes the public character of the nation. A president should unite us and inspire us to follow “our better angels,'” the 2012 Republican presidential nominee wrote in a Washington Post commentary posted Tuesday night.

"...With the nation so divided, resentful and angry, presidential leadership in qualities of character is indispensable. And it is in this province where the incumbent’s shortfall has been most glaring."

McDaniel, who has supported Trump both as RNC chair and former Michigan Republican Party chairwoman, responded on social media.

"POTUS is attacked and obstructed by the MSM media and Democrats 24/7," McDaniel said in a tweet.

"For an incoming Republican freshman senator to attack @realdonaldtrump as their first act feeds into what the Democrats and media want and is disappointing and unproductive."

Romney on CNN later Wednesday declined to take a swipe back at his niece. 

"I respect her right to express that viewpoint," he said. "She's a very loyal Republican, loyal to the president, and she's doing what she thinks is best for him and for the party.”

Romney also said he has no plans to challenge Trump for the GOP presidential nomination. "No. You may have heard I ran before," Romney said, while adding he would consider endorsing "alternatives" to the president.

Romney was considered for secretary of state by Trump before the president-elect settled on former ExxonMobil chairman Rex Tillerson. The 71-year-old Romney did not support Trump during the 2016 campaign.

McDaniel had said in 2016 she and her uncle had a polite disagreement about Trump and that she was following the lead of Michigan's primary voters. She became a Trump delegate at the Cleveland convention. 

"I'm going to go with the voters of Michigan," McDaniel told The Detroit News in 2016.

In 2012, McDaniel campaigned for her uncle's GOP presidential campaign in Michigan and was beside her father, Scott Romney, at the Tampa, Florida, national convention when he cast 25 of the state delegation's 30 votes for Mitt Romney.

Last year, at the helm of the GOP, she said party divisions can distract from policy goals, and she doesn’t shy away from “getting involved” when warranted.

“I’m a big believer in picking up the phone and having a conversation before going in front of the cameras,” McDaniel told The Detroit News.

When Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, on the Senate floor compared Trump’s rhetoric to that of former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, he heard from McDaniel.

“I felt like I needed to respond, and I did see him later that day,” she said. “I think he crossed the line.” 

Trump's conduct in office has disappointed Mitt Romney, who argued in the op-ed that the recent departures of key White House aides plus Trump's contention that the United States has long been a "sucker" in international affairs have "all defined his presidency down."

Romney, who will be sworn into office Thursday, said he supports many Trump administration policies but would support "policies that I believe are in the best interest of the country and my state. ..."

With China and Russia pushing anti-democratic, "brutal" policies, Romney said Trump needs to provide more inspiring leadership abroad and at home.

"To reassume our leadership in world politics, we must repair failings in our politics at home. That project begins, of course, with the highest office once again acting to inspire and unite us," he wrote.

Trump responded characteristically on Twitter.

"Here we go with Mitt Romney, but so fast!" the president tweeted Wednesday. "...Would much prefer that Mitt focus on Border Security and so many other things where he can be helpful. I won big, and he didn’t."

During a Wednesday event at the White House, Trump said Romney needed to show more party unity.

"I wish Mitt could be more of a team player," the president said, according to a pool report. "I endorsed him, and he thanked me profusely.”