"Frankly, it’s time for a new generation of leaders," said Romney, who would be in his mid-80s at the end of another term. "They’re the ones that need to make the decisions that will shape the world they will be living in"
Romney, 76, who previously served as Massachusetts governor and was the GOP nominee in the 2012 presidential election, announced his decision not to seek reelection to the Senate both in a video shared on X (formerly known as Twitter) and in a new interview with The Washington Post.
“Contrary to a lot of expectations, I enjoy my work in the Senate a good deal,” he said in the video announcement to his Utah constituents. “The last few years have been particularly productive as I was able to both lead and negotiate the bipartisan structure law, a comprehensive China strategy process ... and emergency COVID relief funding."
He added: “I spent 25 years in public service in one form or another, and at the end of another term, I’d be in my mid-80s. Frankly, it’s time for a new generation of leaders. They’re the ones that need to make the decisions that will shape the world they will be living in.”
My message to Utahns on my Senate reelection plan: pic.twitter.com/kgbsfIxMeR
— Senator Mitt Romney (@SenatorRomney) September 13, 2023
Romney cited that the U.S. faces major challenges such as the national debt, climate change, and authoritarianism in Russia and China. He criticized President Joe Biden and Trump, accusing them of failing to lead their respective political parties in confronting those issues.
In his new interview with The Washington Post, Romney said that the next generation has to “step up” and “shape the world they’re going to live in.”
Romney, who was elected in 2018 to represent Utah in the U.S. Senate, has the distinction of being the only Republican in the upper chamber of Congress to vote to convict President Trump twice during the latter's impeachment trials. In February 2020, he said of his vote to remove Trump from office: “I will tell my children and their children that I did my duty to the best of my ability, believing that my country expected it of me.”
He had been a longtime opponent of Trump since the real estate tycoon decided to run for president in 2015. “Dishonesty is Trump’s hallmark,” Romney once told an audience of GOP voters in Utah in early 2016.
Romney continued his criticism of Trump, who is currently bidding for the White House again, after the latter lost to Biden in 2020. At a Washington Post forum on climate change in December 2022, Romney said that a Trump political endorsement was a “kiss of death.”
"The difference between Trump's nominees and others is not their policy, but whether they subscribe to the president's lie about the 2020 election," he said.
He added: "If we focus on obsession with his loss, I think we're going to get stuck with candidates who lose."
Romney also said at the event that even while Trump still holds power within the Republication, he would "absolutely not" back Trump should the former president become the GOP nominee next year.
"Look, I voted to remove him from office — twice," he said.
Romney told the Post that he knows that his impeachment votes hurt him politically within the Republican Party and Utahans. However, he said: “If there were no cost to doing what’s right, there’d be no such thing as courage. … I think it’s fair to say that the support I get in Utah is because people respect someone who does what they believe is right, even if they disagree with me.”
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.
Romney said in his announcement video that he will finish out his current term, which expires in January 2025.
“I will keep working on these and other issues and I’ll advance our state's numerous priorities,” he concluded. ”I look forward to working with you and with folks across our state and nation in that endeavor. It is a profound honor to serve Utah and the country, and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to do so."
Responding to Wednesday's news, Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell said, "The U.S. Senate is known to attract bright and proven public servants. However, we rarely get to welcome new Senators already as accomplished and well-regarded as Mitt Romney."
He continued: "The Senate has been fortunate to call our friend from Utah a colleague these past four and a half years, and I am sorry to learn that he will depart our ranks at the end of next year."
For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!
Read the original article on People.