By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – Yes, that was former Massachusetts Governor/2012 GOP Presidential nominee/Utah Senator Mitt Romney all over your TV screen last Sunday, staking out semi-exclusive turf as one of just a handful of Republican senators to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden.

“You’re not going to change the nature of President Trump in these last days, apparently, of his presidency,” he said when asked about the president’s refusal to admit defeat. “He is who he is. And he has a relatively relaxed relationship with the truth.”

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Romney is not a Trump fan. But is there more to his quick acknowledgement of Biden’s victory than just good manners?

“I have a different role being the party’s nominee from 2012,” said Romney. “I feel responsibility to represent my views and [the] small slice of Republicans that still support me.”

A “small slice” is right.

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Eighty-eight percent of Republicans supported Trump last week, and as the only GOP senator to endorse an article of impeachment against him, Romney is detested by core Trump backers. But given how quickly and thoroughly Trump took over the party that nominated Romney just eight years ago, could the pendulum swing back just as fast?

If Trump transition shenanigans fuel GOP losses in those two crucial Georgia senate races, some Republicans may decide Trumpism is a dead end.

Should the new administration even partly live up to the GOP’S predictions of a lurch to the left, conservative appetite for a winner next time around might boost a Romney candidacy, especially with so many Trump wanna-bes likely jockeying for position to Romney’s right. Remember, Trump failed to win a majority in any 2016 primary until it was all over in mid-April; pluralities were good enough against multiple competitors.

“Do we have challenges as a party? Yes,” says Romney. “Do we need to do better with young and women and minorities? Absolutely.”

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And if you know anything about Romney and his lifelong quest to win the office his beloved father George tried and failed to win, you know that there’s no one in either party wants to be president more than Mitt Romney.

Jon Keller