During the 2012 primary and general election I was critical of Mitt Romney. It didn’t win me any new Republican friends during the general. I could not get past his previous statements in support of abortion or his continual defense of socialist, single payer healthcare. Steve Deace reminded Twitter how Romney was supportive of the “bake the cake, bigot” ideology long before it became a litigious trend and went after nuns before Obama did. I was a contributor with CNN at the time and like on my radio program, I was fair, civil, but constantly critical of Romney’s past actions and words and his dodge of those issues at the current time. I was told by a network handler that the Romney camp had called to complain and demand that I appear with a Romney apologist when commenting on Romney. Bush never did that, not even Obama, but apparently Romney did.

Before his last major speech at CPAC, I did a podcast interview with my late friend and former boss Andrew Breitbart, in which we had a lively but friendly argument over Romney support. Andrew didn’t get into the weeds of Republican power jockeying; he knew numbers meant power and control of the floor and calendar, that’s all he wanted. “You should listen to what I say,” he said, pointing a finger at me before disappearing backstage for his remarks. Of course, that was when he gave his extemporaneous remarks on unity and the two choices of Occupy or liberty:

“You want a unity speech? I’ll give you a unity speech. I don’t care who our candidate is. And I haven’t since the beginning of this. I haven’t! Ask not what the candidate can do for you, ask what you can do for the candidate! That’s what the Tea Party is. We are there to confront them on behalf of our candidate. I will march behind whoever our candidate is, because if we don’t, we lose. There are two paths. One is America, and the other one is Occupy.”

Mike Flynn, Editor of Big Government at the time, turned and looked at me with a smug grin. “Message received,” I thought. It made sense. We want the purest candidate, someone who is the perfect distillation of our political desires — and yes, some issues are worse than others. Second Amendment support, for instance. Supporting life. Some issues cannot be compromised. We were at a precipice in politics: as the tea party waned it conservatives, republicans, even some small L libertarians needed to choose whether or not the fight was worth it based on the means at our disposal. The political fight, the cultural fight had arrived in earnest, so do we fight with the candidate who made it through to be the nominee or do we give up and walk away because the candidate wasn’t perfect enough, thus leaving the country and our collective future to chance? If perfection were required, no one would be fit to serve, was my mental refrain, though Romney’s imperfections seemed enormous and he dodged trying to reconcile them (his later defense of these issues proved my suspicion was right). My Republican friends — some of them Never Trump folks today — implored me and other conservatives to support Romney and chided us in subtweets if “people” couldn’t get over themselves enough to vote to save the country.

I don’t regret voting for Romney in the general election as opposed to Obama, but I do regret listening to people who gave Romney a pass for issues with more widespread consequences than the ones they’re excoriating Trump over now. More from Erielle Davidson:

For starters, Romney’s track record on religious freedom has been poor. Catholic leaders in Massachusetts, the state in which Romney formerly served as governor, have emphasized Romney’s role in forcing Catholic hospitals to administer the abortifacient Plan B, even if doing so violated the consciences of the employee required to administer the deadly drugs. “The injury to the conscience rights of Catholic hospitals was not done so much so much by the church’s ideological enemies on the Left but by the Romney administration,” C.J. Doyle, executive director of the Catholic Action League, explained to LifeSiteNews.com back in 2012.

Furthermore, as Rolling Stone points out, Romney has flipped on everything from abortion to health care, making it hard to determine whether he means what he espouses at any given moment.

In a 1994 debate with Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, he proudly announced, “I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country. I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years, that we should sustain and support it. I sustain and support that law and the right of a woman to make that choice.” He “evolved” to eventually arrive at the pro-life position in 2011, at the convenient moment he decided to run on the Republican ticket

Read the whole thing.

Yes, but Trump’s Tweets, though! That Billy Bush tape! Yes, yes. Bring up these things sure, but please don’t in any way act as though it’s on the same level as advocating for legalized infanticide or ordering hospitals to offer abortifacients. Do not act as though it is on the same level as forcing a free people onto failed, socialized health care. Trump has proven to be more pro-life than Romney, more pro-liberty than Romney — especially religious liberty. I’m fascinated by those who hold Trump accountable for his past remarks, which he’s never dodged, but refuse to hold Romney accountable for his. But Trump had an affair! That didn’t stop people from posthumously lionizing George H.W. Bush. I forgot, secrecy is a virtue with you people. Nice parameters.

Romney’s vote wasn’t going to count either way, enough votes were confirmed to determine acquittal, but Romney wanted to make a show of it. He didn’t just vote his conscience, his virtue-signaling was level Pharisees, minus the sackcloth and ash. He orchestrated a pre-taped interview with Chris Wallace to discuss it and will assumedly relish his footnote in history as being the only member of government to convict his same-party president despite a total absence of criminality. That’s fine. I’m not begrudging Romney for his conscience, but I do take issue with how he and his surrogates took issue when voters expressed ours in 2012. We all mess up as all are imperfect, but it seems weird to advertise your faith while also demonstrating a bitter refusal to forgive: forgive being passed over in 2012, forgive not being selected for a choice cabinet position in 2016. Utah voters knew what they were getting when they voted for him and he’ll likely have his seat for a long time. I’m guessing that he would eagerly like to try again at redefining what the GOP is and where it goes in 2024 after Trump leaves office and outsized shoes to fill — not as a candidate, but as a power player, an influencer.

I wish Romney fought as hard for voters in 2012 as he does against the Trump administration. I also hope that Trump ignores Romney’s theatrical grasp for party influence, which is the best response I can imagine. Trump doesn’t have to attend every fight to which he’s invited. Doing so would only shift attention away from the unbelievable response to his SOTU address, the new data on approval and economic satisfaction, and give media a coveted distraction from the dumpster fire engulfing the Democrat party.

As for Romney, I hope he comes to view the party to which he’s pledged as his allies more than the media he seeks, the media which previously spurned him as a murderous, haircut-assaulting, dog-killing, sexist tax cheat. I feel the need to quote (with one word change) an old friend, not ironically, but with a better understanding matured by time: “There are two paths. One is America, and the other one is socialism.”