Sen. Mitt Romney did not mince words when asked about President Donald Trump’s continuing efforts to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden.
“It’s really sad and in a lot of respects embarrassing,” said Romney, R-Utah, who made the rounds on the Sunday morning political talk show circuit. “He’s leaving Washington with a whole series of conspiracy theories and things that are so nutty and loopy that people are shaking their heads, wondering what in the world has gotten into this man.”
Romney was a guest on CNN’s “State of the Union” and “Meet the Press” on NBC Sunday morning, where he discussed a range of pressing political issues.
Romney, who has clashed frequently with the president on a range of issues, said he thinks Trump’s influence on the GOP will endure even after he leaves office but Romney remains hopeful the party will eventually return to its roots.
“The party has taken a different course than the one I knew when I was a younger person,” he said. “The party I knew was very concerned about Russia and Putin and Kim Jong Un and North Korea. We were a party concerned about balancing the budget. We believed in trade with other nations. We were happy to play a leadership role on the world stage. We believed character was essential. We’ve strayed from that and I don’t see us returning to that for a long time.”
Romney has been deeply involved in the efforts to move a coronavirus relief package across the finish line before Congress adjourns for the year. He was part of a bipartisan group working on the relief bill since November.
“Our highest priority is to get help to people who are worried about keeping their job. Getting help to small businesses is critical,” Romney said. “Helping people that are unemployed get an extension of unemployment benefits and housing support.”
House and Senate leaders reached an agreement on a $900 billion relief bill Saturday night. The proposal includes direct payments of $600 to many Americans, a $300 federal weekly unemployment bonus, and another round of small business loans. There’s also money for coronavirus testing and vaccine distribution.
Romney was also asked about the massive cyberattack by Russia targeting multiple federal agencies and systems, including the nation’s nuclear arms stockpile. He said the long-term implications from the attack are quite alarming.
“This is an extraordinarily damaging invasion. You cannot overestimate just how serious this is. They [Russia] basically have the capacity to know everything we’re doing,” he said. “They potentially have the capacity to cripple us economically. They have the ability to cripple our infrastructure. This is very, very serious.”
On Friday, federal officials were ready to blame Russia for the attack but were reportedly told to stand down by the White House. Then, on Saturday, Trump took to Twitter to blame China for the attack.
“I was disappointed in the president’s comment, but I think we’ve come to recognize the president has a blind spot when it comes to Russia,” Romney said. “He doesn’t want to recognize Russia as the problem they are and the extraordinarily bad actor they are on the world stage because it reflects poorly on him, at least in his own mind.”
Romney said it would take federal officials months, if not years, to understand and undo the damage from the attack. He added the invasion required a strong response from Washington as soon as possible.
“We have to have a very clear-eyed approach to how we deal with Russia going forward,” he said. “This demands a response, but I don’t know if we have the capacity to do that in a way that would be of the same scale or even greater scale than what Russia has done to us.”