Romney says equivocating on racism is ‘electorally disqualifying’ in essay tied to anniversary of fatal Charlottesville rally

In a Friday essay on his campaign website, U.S. Senate candidate Mitt Romney wrote that individuals disqualify themselves from being considered “good people” if they knowingly march under a Nazi banner.

The essay came shortly before this weekend’s one-year anniversary of the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., during which a woman was killed and several people were injured in a vehicular attack, and which prompted the widely criticized comment by President Donald Trump that there were “very fine people on both sides” of the white nationalist rally and its counterprotests.

“In this country,” Romney wrote, “it must be electorally disqualifying to equivocate on racism.”

Romney’s essay reiterated his opposition to Trump’s comment, which the former Massachusetts governor posted on twitter after last year’s rally. On Friday, Romney wrote that while the president objected to the characterization of his “very fine people” remark, it has been followed by a national conversation about race in America.

The essay also touched on immigration, a point of controversy for the Trump administration and the Republican-majority Congress.

Trump has been criticized for a zero-tolerance policy toward illegal immigrants, which led to a spike in family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border. And national reports suggest that members of Trump’s White House staff are looking at new restrictions for individuals who legally enter the country.

“There are some besotted and misguided souls who long for a population that is more homogenous — more white,” Romney wrote. “They even disparage legal immigration, ignoring the fact that nearly all Americans are immigrants or descendants of immigrants.”

Romney’s campaign staff declined to comment on whether that passage, or the reference to electoral disqualification, refer to Trump or members of his administration. Romney is an occasionally vocal critic of Trump — he sharply denounced Trump in the 2016 campaign and urged voters to support Trump’s rivals — but more recently has said that Trump’s time in office has exceeded his expectations and that he will speak out only when it is “a matter of substantial significance.”

Salt Lake County Councilwoman Jenny Wilson, Romney’s Democratic opponent for the U.S. Senate seat, said in a prepared statement that she is interested in enacting policies at the local, state and national level to protect the civil liberties and safety of Americans of every race, gender, heritage and sexual orientation.

“If we want to take meaningful steps towards guaranteeing equality of opportunity for each American,” Wilson said, “we must invest in our public schools, pay each worker a living wage, and guarantee access to health care for all families.”