- Sen. Mitt Romney predicted a Trump election win early on election night, per a new book.
- Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, took note of Biden’s less robust performance in Florida.
- Romney did not cast a ballot for Trump in either of the Republican’s presidential campaigns.
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On election night last November, Sen. Mitt Romney watched the early returns and developed “a pit in his stomach” at then-President Donald Trump’s strong performance in early states, an excerpt from a forthcoming book by Washington Post reporters Carol D. Leonnig and Philip Rucker said.
The Utah Republican, who was the 2012 GOP presidential nominee and has had a turbulent relationship with Trump over the years, was watching the returns with his wife, Ann, and other family members and saw that the early numbers were positive for the president.
In fact, the numbers were “surprisingly good” for Trump, with now-President Joe Biden underperforming in Florida’s Miami-Dade County, where Democratic presidential nominees need to perform strongly in order to capture the populous swing state.
That night, Romney told his family that Trump would be victorious in the presidential election, the excerpt from “I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year” said.
“I think he’s going to win,” Romney said in the book. “Those polls were way off. I think he’s going to pull it out.”
At the White House, the mood was jovial early in the night, with Trump supporters thrilled with the initial results.
Trump data cruncher Matt Oczkowski saw positive signs in the president’s overperformance among minority groups in Florida, along with his success with turning out rural White voters in North Carolina, according to the excerpt.
However, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien tried to keep the president’s expectations in check, telling him to “stay calm” as states continued to report their results, according to the excerpt.
Romney, who was less shocked at Trump’s 2016 victory than many others, had seen the GOP become more beholden to far-right figures over the years, but still sought to deny the president a second term in office.
As the night went on and states were called for Biden, along with the reality that several key states had many more ballots to count, the expectations of a Trump win became increasingly tempered.
Trump, who was anxious to declare victory on election night, instead gave an early morning speech where he challenged the validity of the remaining ballots and sought to involve the Supreme Court in the race.
Romney expressed that was “heartsick” after watching the president’s nationally-televised speech, according to the excerpt.
“We’re in a global battle for the survival of liberal democracy in the face of autocracy and autocratic regimes attempting to dominate the world,” he said. “So saying something and doing things that would suggest that in the free nation of the United States of America and the model of democracy for the world, that we can’t have a free and fair election would have a destructive effect on democracy around the world, not just to mention here.”
The senator voted to convict Trump of abuse of power in his first impeachment trial for this role in the Ukraine scandal, and would later go on to vote to convict the ex-president of incitement of insurrection in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol riot in his second impeachment trial.
Trump was acquitted of the charges in both Senate trials, as the upper chamber failed to reach the two-thirds threshold needed to convict.
Romney said last year that he did not vote for Trump in either the 2016 or 2020 presidential elections.