Convention attendees voted by a margin of 798-711 to beat the censure resolution toward the end of the party's meeting. Although the junior senator from Utah fled the criticism, the close vote reflected the state GOP's dissatisfaction with Romney's past votes to convict Trump.
"Mitt Romney’s votes to remove Trump from office in two illegitimate impeachment trials hurt the constitution and hurt the party," Davis County delegate Don Guymon, who authored the resolution, announced, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
Guymon's declaration sparked intense debate, with some attendees, like Salt Lake County delegate Emily de Azavedo Brown, claiming that the GOP was greater than a single personality.
"If the point of all this is to let Mitt Romney know we’re displeased with him, trust me, he knows," she stated. "Let’s not turn this into a Trump or no Trump thing. Are we a party of principle or a party of a person?"
Utah County delegate Steve Densley continued that the Republican Party rejects "cancel culture."
"This proposal is not about whether Romney is a good Republican," he explained. "This is about sending a message that this party cannot tolerate dissent."
Although the delegates gathered around Romney in the censure resolution, the senator was less kindly received earlier in the day. Romney was showered with boos as he gave a speech condemning President Joe Biden's agenda.
"I’m a man who says what he means, and you know I was not a fan of our last president’s character issues," he announced Saturday as delegates at Utah’s Republican convention yelled their disapproval, with some proclaiming him a “traitor” and a “communist.”
"Aren’t you embarrassed?" the senator later asked the crowd before praising his Republican credentials.
The hecklers eventually stopped after the delegates were directed by the outgoing party chairman to "show respect" toward Romney.
Romney's past criticism of Trump, culminating in his votes to convict the president on impeachment charges in both 2019 and 2021, has attracted fury from those on the Right. The defeat of Saturday's motion comes after a February petition to censure Romney for his anti-Trump votes.
"This is the second time he has betrayed the people of Utah," GOP activist Janalee Tobias explained. "We assumed since he was a Republican presidential candidate, he would be a loyal supporter of President Trump."
Trump was first impeached on two Ukraine-related charges in 2019 without the backing of a single Republican in the House. The only Republican to vote in favor of conviction in the Senate was Romney, who voted in favor of the abuse of power article of impeachment while rejecting the charge for obstruction of justice. The then-president was eventually acquitted in the Senate.