Sen. Mitt Romney — the 2012 Republican presidential nominee — on Friday said President Donald Trump’s attacks on election results are damaging freedom around the world.
“He is wrong to say that the election was rigged, corrupt and stolen,” Romney said on Twitter and Facebook on Friday morning. “Doing so damages the cause of freedom here and around the world, weakens institutions that lie at the foundation of the Republic, and recklessly inflames destructive and dangerous passions.”
However, Romney also said, “The president is within his rights to request recounts, to call for investigation of alleged voting irregularities where evidence exists, and to exhaust legal remedies — doing these things is consistent with our election process.”
National cable news shows interrupted ongoing coverage of the election to read Romney’s statement, and commented that it was much tougher than has been heard from most leading Republicans.
Romney, of course, was the only Senate Republican to vote to impeach Trump, and has often criticized his tweets and policy.
It comes a day after Romney had issued a much more tepid statement.
“Counting every vote is at the heart of democracy,” Romney said on Thursday. “That process is often long, and for those running, frustrating. The votes will be counted. If there are irregularities alleged, they will be investigated and ultimately resolved in the courts. Have faith in democracy, in our constitution and in the American people.”
The Associated Press reported that other senior Republicans were taking more neutral tones, or were supporting Trump.
“Every legal vote should be counted,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted early Friday. “All sides must get to observe the process.”
McConnell grew testy during a news conference later in Kentucky when he was repeatedly asked to say more. “Beyond that, I don’t have anything to say,” McConnell said. “It won’t make any difference how many times you ask I’ve already given my answer.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy took a more confrontational tone, insisting inaccurately that Trump “won” the election — even though officials in several states are still counting Americans' ballots.
“So everyone who’s listening, do not be quiet, do not be silent about this. We cannot allow this to happen before our very eyes,” McCarthy said Thursday on Fox News. “Join together and let’s stop this.”