Mitt Romney finds a line he wasn't supposed to cross

Mitt Romney is interviewed by Neil Cavuto during his "Cavuto Coast to Coast" program on the Fox Business Network, in New York, March 4, 2016. (Photo by Richard Drew/AP)
Mitt Romney is interviewed by Neil Cavuto during his "Cavuto Coast to Coast" program on the Fox Business Network, in New York, March 4, 2016. 

Long before Mitt Romney was a Republican senator from Utah, his previous political iterations are practically unrecognizable. Romney, for example, used to promise to protect pro-choice policies on reproductive rights. He also kept his distance from the GOP during Ronald Reagan's presidency.

Romney was even an enthusiastic proponent of a health care reform model that included individual mandates -- and his blueprint soon after served as the basis for the Democrats' Affordable Care Act.

In time, however, the right was willing to overlook all of this. Romney became vastly more conservative, abandoned his previous positions, and became a leading GOP voice -- including winning his party's presidential nomination as recently as 2012. For Republicans, Romney was on the wrong side of a great many issues during his political career, but they were willing to overlook his earlier ideological transgressions.

It now appears, however, that there are some lines he's not allowed to cross.

Sen. Mitt Romney will not be invited to this year's CPAC, the conservative conference's host chair announced Friday in the aftermath of senators voting not to hear additional witnesses in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial."BREAKING: The "extreme conservative" and Junior Senator from the great state of Utah, @SenatorRomney is formally NOT invited to #CPAC2020," tweeted Matt Schlapp, chair of the American Conservative Union, which hosts the conference.

CBS News' Margaret Brennan asked Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel yesterday whether the backlash against Romney represents "proper political retaliation." The RNC leader dodged the question, though she said the party's activist base gets "upset when people aren't supporting the president and supporting our party."

Romney, incidentally, is Ronna McDaniel's uncle. Apparently, that wasn't enough to generate some on-air support.

Let's not forget that the Utah senator hasn't voted to remove Trump from office, at least not yet. All Romney did was vote to hear witness testimony in an impeachment trial -- a step that should be rather unremarkable, given that literally every Senate impeachment trial in American history has included witnesses before now.

In other words, Romney has become a target for seeking relevant information ahead of an important vote -- information, incidentally, from John Bolton, a leading far-right figure -- and that's a line the right has decided senators must not cross.

This is where Republican politics stand in 2020.