Utah senator Mitt Romney is not holding back in an upcoming biography set to be released Tuesday, Romney: A Reckoning. According to one publishing source, McKay Coppins’s book offers Romney’s lively and at times devastating take on nearly every major political figure of the last twenty-five years. After reading several titillating and tantalizing excerpts from the biography, Cockburn fears he may be dethroned as DC’s cattiest gossip columnist.
Unsurprisingly, the two biggest victims of Romney’s snark are Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis. Romney doesn’t try to hide his resentment at the two politicians’ success and instead wastes no time calling them both authoritarians and Trump a fool. Upon arriving at Mar-a-Lago for the first time in the 1990s, Romney remembered Trump as a “cartoon character” strutting about his estate “like an English lord.” Romney finds DeSantis comparatively much more competent. “DeSantis is real smart — do you want an authoritarian who’s smart or one who’s not smart?… I realize there’s a peril to having someone who’s smart and pulling in a direction that’s dangerous,” he said.
Of course, DeSantis’s brains can’t save what Romney considers his awful personality. “There’s just no warmth at all,” Romney said, with the charisma of a man who strapped his dog to his car roof for a cross country trip. “He looks like he’s got a toothache,” Romney added about the Florida governor posing for selfies with Iowa voters.
Cockburn’s other favorite insults include: Newt Gingrich — “a smug know-it-all, smarmy, and too pleased with himself”; Ted Cruz — “frightening,” “scary,” “a demagogue”; and Mike Huckabee — a “huckster,” a “caricature of a for-profit preacher.”
Romney’s zingers are the result of nearly two years’ work meeting with Coppins, a staff writer for the Atlantic, a fellow member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the author of the biography. Romney originally considered releasing his own memoir but decided against it since he couldn’t be “objective” about his own life… not that the resulting biography seems any less biased.
“When I approached him two years ago about writing this biography, I told him it would only work if he was ready to be completely forthcoming,” Coppins said. “He reacted like it was a dare. I was astonished by his level of candor.” Romney turned hundreds of diary entries, emails, and text messages over to Coppins, many of them from direct communications with politicians.
In addition to comments made about fellow members of the GOP, the book reveals Romney’s vision for his party — or rather Oprah’s. According to the biography, the Utah senator was allegedly approached by the media mogul to run as part of her Unity ticket “to save the country” from Trump. While Romney ultimately turned down Oprah’s offer, he did consider forming a centrist party with West Virginia senator Joe Manchin. He often fantasized running against Trump in 2020 so he could confront the then-incumbent candidate in a debate.
“I must admit, I’d love being on the stage with Donald Trump… and just saying, ‘That’s stupid. Why are you saying that?” Romney said. According to Coppins, Romney relished the thought of spending an entire debate grilling Trump about his suggestion that Americans inject Clorox in the early weeks of the Covid-19 pandemic. “Every time Donald Trump makes a strong argument, I’d say, ‘remind me again about the Clorox,’” Romney told Coppins. “Every now and then, I would cough and go, ‘Clorox.’”
But it’s not just within his own party where Romney feels uncomfortable. The devout Mormon says he is unfit for life in the Swamp. He spends most nights alone watching Ted Lasso or Better Call Saul in his $2.4 million townhouse which he says has taken on “an unkept bachelor-pad quality.”
“On the day of my first visit, he showed me his freezer, which was full of salmon filets that had been given to him by Lisa Murkowski, the senator from Alaska,” Coppins wrote. “He didn’t especially like salmon but found that if he put it on a hamburger bun and smothered it in ketchup, it made for a serviceable meal.
Cockburn can’t say he is surprised that Romney has few friends — and he cannot imagine the situation getting much better following the release of his biography. But such is the life of a DC gossip…