Frenemies: Romney, GOP reunite on plan for Ginsburg seat

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, leaves the Senate Chamber after a procedural vote, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Sept. 21, 2020. Romney is one of four Republicans who could oppose a vote on a replacement for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg prior to Election Day. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, leaves the Senate Chamber after a procedural vote, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Sept. 21, 2020. Romney is one of four Republicans who could oppose a vote on a replacement for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg prior to Election Day. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

WASHINGTON – Sen. Mitt Romney is having a homecoming moment.

The Utah Republican and 2012 GOP presidential nominee incensed President Donald Trump and Republicans with his impeachment vote. But on Tuesday he cleared the way for his party to replace Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on Friday at age 87, overcoming Democratic objections that it's too close to the Nov. 3 election to consider a nominee.

By lunchtime Tuesday, “#HesaRepublican" was trending on Twitter.

Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, has never run as anything but a Republican. But his loyalty to the GOP under Trump's control has long been questioned and mocked by the president and his supporters. Romney, in turn, has called Trump unfit to serve. He was the lone Republican senator to vote to convict the president on an impeachment charge, a perceived apostasy that Trump and his allies won't soon forgive.

So it was notable when their positions aligned, for the moment, on the need to replace the unquestioned leader of the high court's liberal wing.

“I’m not trying to make anybody happy. I’m just trying to do what I think is right,” Romney told reporters Tuesday.

Trump and McConnell have launched one of the quickest confirmation processes in modern times. No court nominee in U.S. history has been considered so close to a presidential election. Trump says he expects to announce his pick on Saturday, before Ginsburg is buried next week at Arlington National Cemetery.

In fact, Senate math makes clear that Democrats had almost no recourse to stop majority Republicans from moving ahead on the matter. It takes four Republicans in a Senate split 53-47 to keep the president's nominee off the high court. But three defections would have forced Vice President Mike Pence to break the tie, and two Republicans, Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, had said they'd oppose filling the seat before the election.