Mitt Romney rejects Trump’s voter fraud claims, says it’s time to ‘get behind the new president’

(Screengrab via Grabien) Sen. Mitt Romney speaks with CNN's Jake Tapper on Nov. 8, 2020.

Sen. Mitt Romney said Sunday that President Donald Trump’s allegations of widespread voter fraud are “destructive to the cause of democracy” and Americans of all political stripes should back President-elect Joe Biden.

“It’s time we get behind the new president and wish him the very best,” said Romney, who was the first sitting Republican senator to congratulate Biden, sending a tweet about two hours after The Associated Press and TV networks called the race. On Saturday, only one other Republican senator followed suit, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski.

Romney, the Republicans’ 2012 presidential nominee, made the rounds on three of the five major Sunday political chat shows, appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” NBC’s “Meet the Press,” and “Fox News Sunday.”

Romney said having so few Republican leaders acknowledge Biden’s win did not surprise him given the close election results.

“Everybody makes their own assessment as to what their responsibility might be,” he said. “Frankly, the eyes of history are upon us.”

[Read more: Mitt Romney, other Utah leaders react to Joe Biden’s presidential victory]

Hosts repeatedly asked Romney about allegations from Trump and some of his Republican colleagues that the election may be rife with voter fraud, though the president has offered no substantial proof.

“When you say the election was corrupt or stolen or rigged, that’s the language that gets picked up by authoritarians around the world,” Romney said. “I think it also discourages confidence in our democratic process here at home.”

Biden was declared the winner of the presidential race early Saturday after days of slow vote counting of largely mail-in ballots in the swing states of Pennsylvania, Nevada, Arizona and Georgia. So far, Trump has not conceded. And Romney says he does not expect Trump to gracefully bow out.

“We’re not going to change President Trump or his nature in the waning days of his presidency,” Romney said. “The president is going to do what he has traditionally done, what he’s doing now. I don’t think that’s going to be a surprise for anyone.

“He is who he is and he has a relatively relaxed relationship with the truth,” the Utah senator said. “Don’t expect him to go quietly in the night. That’s not how he operates.”

Romney says he sees no evidence of a stolen election.

“I’m sure individuals would like to be able to, but I don’t think there’s a widespread conspiracy of some kind,” he said. “Those things just don’t happen the way people would anticipate they might.”

Romney did say the results in several states are still very close, and he thinks Trump should pursue every legal avenue available to him to make sure those results are legitimate.

“I think it’s important for all of us to hold our breath a bit, to calm down a bit, and to not use language that’s so inflammatory it will make people angry,” he added. “There are people that are not watching carefully who feel somehow something has been rigged. There’s simply no evidence of that at this stage.”

When Biden takes office in January, he’ll likely face a divided Congress, which reflects a divided electorate. As of now, Republicans hold a slight edge in the Senate, with two runoff elections to take place in Georgia that could determine what party controls that chamber.

Despite Trump’s loss, Republicans made gains all over the country on election night, winning Senate races polls showed they were expected to lose and picking up a few House seats. Romney says, to him, that shows Americans lean more to the right politically, and they’re not going to look favorably on several Democratic policy ideas.

“I don’t think Americans want to sign up for the Green New Deal. I don’t think they want to sign up for getting rid of coal or oil or gas. I don’t think they’re interested in Medicare for all or higher taxes that would slow down the economy,” he said.

But, Romney said there are a few areas where Republicans can work with Biden and the Democrats.

“Health care is one of those. Look, Obamacare is not working for millions and millions of Americans,” he said. “We’re going to have to fix it. I would have rather seen it overturned and replaced. But unless the court tells us to do that, why we’re going have to fix it the way it is.”

Romney also said he would be willing to collaborate on finding help for families with children, perhaps implementing a more extensive child tax credit. He also sees an opening for Congress to address social safety net spending, like Social Security, Medicare and other programs.

Romney said Tuesday’s election results, especially the potential for a Democratic flip in Georgia, show the Republican Party has to broaden its appeal.

“Do we have challenges as a party? Absolutely. Do we need to do better with young people and minorities in particular? Absolutely. Can we bring back suburban women into our party? I believe so, but we’ve got some work to do,” Romney said.

But, Romney acknowledged the GOP is still the party of Trump, despite this loss.

“He is without question the most powerful voice in our party. He’s not disappearing by any means. He’s the 900-pound gorilla when it comes to the Republican Party.”