"You know I was not a fan of our last president's character issues", the senator told the crowd, which jeered.
About 1,900 delegates were in attendance at the start of the state organizing convention, held at the Maverik Center, Cox said. Accusations that Romney was a "traitor" or "communist" flew from the crowd like so many poison darts.
Sen. Mitt Romney endured insults and boos from Republicans at home on Saturday, but he avoided being censured by the Utah party convention. Romney responded, per NBC: "Oh yeah, you can boo all you like, but I've been a Republican all my life".
Romney was one of only seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump during his second impeachment trial, following the Jan 6. insurrection attempt at the US Capitol. Romney was also the only Republican to break from his party and vote to impeach Trump at the former president's first trial over foreign interference in the 2016 election.
Trump, for his part, has repeatedly referred to Romney as RINO (Republican in name only), also slamming the senator as a "choke artist" and "one of the dumbest and worst candidates in the history of Republican politics". "I understand that I have a few folks who don't like me terribly much". My dad was a governor of Michigan; my dad worked for Republican candidates that he believed in.
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"But I express my mind as I believe is right, and I follow my conscience as I believe is right", Romney said, which prompted loud cheers.
The booing only stopped after outgoing party chair Derek Brown called on delegates to "show respect" for the Utah senator, who in turn urged party members to "come together in strength and unity".
"If the point of all this is to let Mitt Romney know we're displeased with him, trust me, he knows", said Salt Lake County delegate Emily de Azavedo Brown.
Davis County delegate Don Guymon, who authored the censure resolution, said Romney's votes to remove Trump from office 'hurt the Constitution and hurt the party'. This week, he correctly said that China is an existential threat to our democracy. "I worked for Republicans across the country, and if you don't recall, I was the Republican nominee for president in 2012". "Those are the principles that unite us".
The Republican Party was not led by "just one person", she said, in reference to Mr Trump's grip on it.