Romney: Republicans don't criticize Trump because they fear it will help Warren

Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyClub for Growth extends advertising against House Dems over impeachment Pennsylvania's other election-night story This week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry MORE (R-Utah) said Republicans tend not to publicly criticize President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive landmark moments of testimony to Congress Lindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight Democrats sharpen their message on impeachment MORE because they fear doing so will help Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden: 'I'm more of a Democrat from my shoe sole to my ears' than anyone else running Press: Another billionaire need not apply Saagar Enjeti dismisses Warren, Klobuchar claims of sexism MORE's (D-Mass.) presidential bid.

"They don't want to do something which makes it more likely for Elizabeth Warren to become president or for us to lose the Senate. So they don't want to go out and criticize the leader of our party because they feel that might have the consequence of hurting our country longer term," Romney told "Axios on HBO."

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"People ... genuinely believe, as I do, that conservative principles are better for our country and for the working people of our country than liberal principles and that if Elizabeth Warren were to become president, for instance, or if we were to lose the Senate, that it would not be good for the American people," Romney added.

Warren, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president, has surged in the polls in recent months and has overtaken former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenFive landmark moments of testimony to Congress Democrats sharpen their message on impeachment Biden: 'I'm more of a Democrat from my shoe sole to my ears' than anyone else running MORE in some early primary state polling.

Romney, a freshman senator from Utah who was elected last year, has emerged as one of Trump's strongest critics on the GOP side of Congress amid the Democrats' ongoing impeachment inquiry and the president's decision to withdraw troops from northern Syria.

Trump, meanwhile, has regularly attacked Romney via his Twitter feed and earlier this month suggested that the Utah Republican should be "impeached," though there is no mechanism to do so.

"I’m hearing that the Great People of Utah are considering their vote for their Pompous Senator, Mitt Romney, to be a big mistake. I agree! He is a fool who is playing right into the hands of the Do Nothing Democrats! #IMPEACHMITTROMNEY," Trump tweeted.