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Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that the Republican Party "has taken a different course" from its core values in recent years.

Why it matters: Romney has emerged as the party's most prominent critic of President Trump. He was the only Republican to vote to convict the president during the impeachment trial in the Senate earlier this year.

  • The 2012 GOP presidential nominee conceded he represents "a very small slice of the Republican party today."

What he's saying: "The party that I knew was very concerned about Russia and Putin and Kim Jong-un and North Korea, and we pushed back aggressively against them," Romney said. "We were a party concerned about balancing the budget. We believed in trade with other nations."

  • "We were happy to play a leadership role on the world stage because we felt that made us safer and more prosperous, and we believed that character was essential in the leaders we chose."
  • "We strayed from that. I don't see us returning to that for a long time."

Yes, but: Romney stopped short of saying he would ever leave the party, instead saying he is "more effective" being in the party while trying to return it to its original values.

  • "I think ultimately the Republican party will return to the roots that have been formed over — well, the century."

Worth noting: Romney said he doesn't see the party's nominee for the presidency in 2024 returning it to its core values, because most of the people vying for the spot "are trying to become as much like Donald Trump as they can be."

  • "Although I must admit that his style and shtick, if you will, is difficult to duplicate. He is an extraordinarily talented person from that standpoint."

Go deeper

Ronna McDaniel says RNC would stay "neutral" in primaries if Trump ran in 2024

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel told the AP on Wednesday that if former President Trump runs again in 2024, the GOP will remain "neutral" during the primary season.

Why it matters: McDaniel has been staunchly supportive of the former president, who endorsed her to keep running the RNC. She now must focus on regaining majorities in Congress, especially as the Republican party reckons with what the GOP looks like after Trump, even as he remains hugely popular with his base.

One take on the GOP's 2022 "nightmare scenario"

Via Twitter.

Hat tip to our friend Josh Kraushaar for his smart piece in the National Journal about potential 2022 Senate election scenarios.

What they're saying: "Typically, as the party out of power, Republicans should hold an advantage in a midterm election. But the Republican Party is now bitterly divided between Trumpists and institutionalists, foreshadowing a unique election cycle in which the quality of candidates may end up mattering as much as the overall political environment," Josh wrote.

He then tweeted out his "nightmare" scenario for the GOP, captured above.

Go deeper.

Young people want checks on Big Tech's power

Data: Generation Lab; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

The next generation of college-educated Americans thinks social media companies have too much power and influence on politics and need more government regulation, according to a new survey by Generation Lab for Axios.

Why it matters: The findings follow an election dominated by rampant disinformation about voting fraud on social media; companies' fraught efforts to stifle purveyors of disinformation including former President Trump; and a deadly Jan. 6 insurrection over the election organized largely online.