Utah Sen. Mitt Romney says it’s ‘moronic’ for conservatives to politicize the COVID vaccines

Utah senator laments the CPAC crowd cheering that the U.S. missed Biden’s July 4 inoculation goal.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Sen. Mitt Romney greets Shelly Rives, right, a clinical quality director at Midtown Community Health Center during Romney's short visit to a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at the North Davis Senior Center in March 2021. The Utah senator says it's "moronic" for conservatives to politicize the vaccination effort.

Sen. Mitt Romney says the politicization of the coronavirus vaccines is “moronic.”

His comments come days after an audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference gathering in Texas cheered that the U.S. fell short of President Joe Biden’s vaccination goal.

Romney called that reaction “grossly unfortunate” when asked Tuesday by reporters at the U.S. Capitol.

“After all, [former] President [Donald] Trump and his supporters take credit for developing the vaccine,” Romney said, “why the heck won’t they take advantage of taking the vaccine they received plaudits for having developed?”

Romney and the rest of Utah’s congressional delegation have been vaccinated. The CPAC crowd has been hugely supportive of Trump and has been highly critical of Romney for not backing the former president.

Biden had wanted 70% of U.S. adults to receive at least one dose of the vaccine by July 4. The nation is at least a few weeks behind that.

Utah had the same goal, and Gov. Spencer Cox, at one point, said the state barely reached it. But that turned out not to be right. The state Health Department had misinterpreted some federal data.

“We screwed up. And I sincerely apologize,” Cox wrote in an open letter to Utahns, issued from his office Monday.

In Utah, a little more than 67% of adults have had at least one dose.

A national study by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that Republicans, at 52%, are less likely to get the vaccine than any other group surveyed. No category — whether broken down by age, gender, race, education or political affiliation — ranked lower.

And states that Trump carried in the 2020 election have generally had lower vaccination rates than states that Biden won.