GOP Sen. Mitt Romney says he will not run for reelection

U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) and other U.S senators unveil legislation that would allow the Biden administration to “ban or prohibit” foreign technology products such as the Chinese-owned video app TikTok during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 7, 2023. 

Bonnie Cash | Reuters

Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah on Wednesday announced that he will not seek reelection next year. His current term ends in early 2025.

“While I’m not running for reelection, I’m not retiring from the fight,” Romney, 76, said in a video posted to X, formerly Twitter.

Romney highlighted his age as he announced his decision.

“I’ve spent my last 25 years in public service of one kind or another. At the end of another term, I’d be in my mid-80s,” Romney said.

“Frankly, it’s time for a new generation of leaders,” he said. “They’re the ones that need to make the decisions that will shape the world they will be living in.”

Whether intentional or not, those remarks drew an implicit contrast with some of Romney’s even older colleagues, including 81-year-old Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and 90-year-old Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

Both have suffered recent public health scares that have raised concerns about whether they are able to perform their duties.

Romney said in August that he would reveal his decision on running for another Senate term by the fall.

Romney was elected to the Senate in 2018, a return to elected office for the former governor of Massachusetts who mounted a failed bid to unseat then-President Barack Obama in 2012.

In Congress, Romney distinguished himself as one of former President Donald Trump’s few outspoken Republican critics. He was the only Republican to vote to convict Trump following his first impeachment trial in early 2020, a decision that drew a scornful response from Trump and his allies.

Romney joined six other Republican senators in 2021 who voted to convict Trump following his second impeachment for allegedly inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

Trump, 77, ripped Romney in an all-caps social media post celebrating his decision to retire as “fantastic news for America.”

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Romney’s animosity toward Trump predated his election to the Senate. In the 2016 election cycle, Romney unleashed a torrent of criticism against Trump, denouncing the then-rising star of the GOP as a “fraud” and encouraging voters to pick one of his remaining primary challengers.

But after Trump defied Romney’s prediction by defeating Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the general election, Romney traveled to Trump’s golf club for a private meeting, fueling speculation that he was in the running for a Cabinet role.

Romney critiqued both Trump and 80-year-old President Joe Biden — both of whom are running for president again in 2024 — in Wednesday’s video.

“We face critical challenges — mounting national debt, climate change, and the ambitious authoritarians of Russia and China. Neither President Biden nor former President Trump are leading their party to confront those issues,” Romney said.

“On the deficits and debt, both men refuse to address entitlements even though they represent two-thirds of federal spending. Donald Trump calls global warming a hoax and President Biden offers feel-good solutions that will make no difference to the global climate. On China, President Biden underinvests in the military and President Trump underinvests in our alliances,” he said.

The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Romney’s remarks.

“Political motivations too often impede the solutions that these challenges demand,” Romney said. “The next generation of leaders must take America to the next stage of global leadership.”

Romney vowed to keep working on a range of issues through the end of his term in January 2025.

“It is a profound honor to serve Utah and the nation,” he said, “and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to do so.”

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