Whether an absolute fact or simply part of U.S. political lore, it’s often been said that in August 1974, U.S. President Richard Nixon lamented that “If I’ve lost Goldwater, I’ve lost the White House.”

On Aug. 7, 1974, U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater, an Arizona Republican, told the president that he faced all-but-certain impeachment, conviction and removal from office in connection with the Watergate scandal. Nixon announced his resignation the next evening, effective at noon on Aug 9, 1974.

Fast-forward 45 years, and I can’t help but wonder if current President Donald Trump might have his own Au H2O (Goldwater) moment with another GOP senator.

In an Oct. 5 opinion headlined “GOP senators, it’s time to stop forfeiting your soul to Donald Trump,” Boston Globe columnist Michael A. Cohen wrote to the Republican-held Senate: “Enough is enough. The time has come – indeed it’s long overdue – to stop enabling Donald Trump.”

Cohen asks the GOP senators (see https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2019/10/05/gop-senators-time-stop-forfeiting-your-soul-donald-trump/hZr2mArKeNWANOfk3NrzrM/story.html): “Is your job really worth trashing the Constitution that you swore to defend and support when you took your oath of office? Many of you speak of your religious faith, so take the words of Matthew 16:26 to heart, ‘What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?’

“Let’s face it: For the past two-and-a-half years, you’ve forfeited your soul to Donald Trump. It’s pathetic and indefensible, but it’s never too late to do the right and honorable thing. You know Trump is a threat to the country. By calling on him to resign or indicating your support for conviction in the Senate, you have the power to end this national nightmare. Without you, it won’t happen and Trump will remain in office for who knows who long. So do it. Save your souls and save America’s.”

Strong words, to be sure.

That brings us back to Nixon’s Goldwater epiphany.

How many prominent Republican senators are likely to take Cohen’s bait? (Granted, they all believe themselves to be “prominent” – as well as opulent.) But what happens if a longtime Washington insider in the Republican Senate breaks away from Trump on the impeachment issue?

This weekend, Trump called for Utah to impeach U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney. (Utah voters cannot impeach their senators.)

I had to laugh at Trump’s latest attack on Romney. Just the other day, I was looking at a photo I’d taken at the 2012 Highland County Fair with local GOP favorite sons Cliff Rosenberger and Shane Wilkin walking along the midway with Romney’s son just ahead of Romney’s loss in the presidential election that year to Barack Obama.

For those less familiar with the inner workings of politics, one might wonder if the local GOP, who was so happy to be supporting Romney seven years ago, today supports his impeachment as a U.S. senator. The same applies for their continued allegiance to Trump. Hello? Crickets.

You can’t have it both ways.

Now, just for consideration, what happens if Ohio’s Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman – who’s voted 90 percent of the time with Trump – aligns with Romney and calls out the president for myriad and sundry affairs? Where will the state and local Republicans stand?

They stood with Romney in 2012. They won’t defend him in 2019.

They stood with Trump in 2016. Will they defend him in 2020?

As the impeachment talk warms up, Trump said last week that Portman can back him up on why he delayed release of U.S. aid to Ukraine.

Perhaps Portman bristled a bit at that announcement. I suspect he did.

Earlier this year, Portman broke ranks with Trump and voted to overturn the president's declaration of a national emergency on the border. The Senate voted 59-41 to reject Trump's national emergency declaration. Portman joined 12 Republicans in voting against Trump.

Will Trump ever say publicly “If I’ve lost Portman, I’ve lost the presidency?” Time will tell.

Let’s close with this from Washington Examiner columnist Noemie Emery: Obama, Clintons gave us Trump and the 2020 clown car (https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columnists/obama-clintons-gave-us-trump-and-the-2020-clown-car).

“If you’re looking for why the Trump presidency happened, look no further than Obama and both of Clintons. They wiped out the field and then shot the wounded,” Emery wrote.

“This is how you end up with the 2020 field (at the start) of 20-odd people, including two socialists, a billionaire hippie, a very large cohort of gender/race warriors and one geriatric former vice president, who says odd things at moments but seems like the only one in touch with regular people. It's like they're starting out all over again.”

If Trump loses Portman…

Rory Ryan is publisher and owner of The Highland County Press, Highland County's only locally owned and operated newspaper.