Romney to St. George News: When Trump is divisive or racist, ‘I’ll stand up and speak out’

ST. GEORGE — In an interview with St. George News on Tuesday, Mitt Romney said one of his biggest priorities right now is to get more Utahns to the voting booth.

The two-time Republican presidential candidate and former governor of Massachusetts currently running to represent Utah in the U.S. Senate also touched on his plans for immigration reform, gun laws, foreign affairs and his relationship with President Donald Trump if he’s elected.

Mitt Romney speaks to a crowd of over 100 supporters and prospective voters at Vernon Worthen Park during a stop in St. George, Utah, May 21, 2018 | File photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Romney, 71, will face off against state legislator Mike Kennedy in the June 26 primary to determine the Republican Party nominee for the Senate seat left vacant by Orrin Hatch, who is retiring.

Romney said he definitely won’t be running for president again, and he will likely seek to only serve two to three terms as a senator. After his time in the Senate, Romney said he’d “probably” be retired.

“I’m not going to be able to match Orrin Hatch’s record,” Romney said. “I’d be 112 or so if I tried to.”

Romney said he was surprised and dismayed to hear about Utah’s relatively low voter turnout, which is something he has hoped to address with his campaign.

“Individuals lost their lives to provide for us the right to vote,” Romney said. “When we vote, we acknowledge their sacrifice and show appreciation for it.”

A study released last year found that because many of Utah’s political races are noncompetitive, voter participation in Utah was ranked 39th in the nation in the 2016 election. But the race between Romney and Kennedy has been anything but noncompetitive. Kennedy beat Romney by 2 percentage points at the GOP state convention in April, but because Romney gathered enough signatures to guarantee his spot on the ballot, they are facing off in the primary election this month.

Romney said there really isn’t much of a difference between his platform and Kennedy’s. The thing that differentiates himself from Kennedy is his experience, Romney said. He touted his experience managing a successful business, running the 2002 Olympics in Utah and as a governor and presidential candidate.

“I haven’t heard (Kennedy) describe any issue where we disagree,” Romney said.

U.S. Senate candidate Mitt Romney greets a fellow diner customer at the Brick House Cafe, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 22, 2018 | File photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Romney on Trump

Romney, who called Trump “a phony” and “a fraud” during the 2016 presidential campaign, has apparently buried the hatchet with the president. He largely supports the president’s policies, although he said he’s glad the president hasn’t followed through with some of his campaign promises, like Trump’s “damaging” idea to impose a 45 percent tariff on Chinese goods.

Romney said he’s not going to be afraid to stand up against the president if Trump says something that he doesn’t think is right.

“I’ll be with the president when he’s right on policy. When he says something that is highly divisive or racist or anti-immigrant, I’ll stand up and speak out.”

Romney said Trump’s actions during his first year in office have “exceeded” his expectations, including overhauling the tax system and shrinking the national monuments in Southern Utah.

Last week, Romney predicted Trump’s reelection in 2020, saying he’d easily win the party’s nomination and solidly win a second term. After Romney’s prediction, Trump then called him a “straight shooter.”

Romney said he hopes Trump will focus on narrowing tariffs on nations that are the “bad actors” and not making broad changes, which would hurt the nation as a whole and Utah.

“Utah is a net export state,” Romney said. “We send more goods outside our state than we buy from around the world. I want to keep exports opening and thriving.”

Mitt Romney poses for a photo with a Dixie State University student during a “meet and greet” session on the DSU campus, St. George, Utah, March 5, 2018 | File photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

Monday’s summit between Trump and North Korea dictator Kim Jong Un was a “promising step,” he said.

“The commitments made by Kim Jong Un to denuclearize on a permanent basis North Korea, that’s a very encouraging commitment. We’ll see what happens down the road in terms of how much verification will be available, because in the past they’ve tended to cheat.”

Specific goals if elected

The immigration system in the U.S. is a mess, Romney said, and the reluctance of government to make lasting changes on the legal immigration system is “an example of how badly out of control Washington is.” As senator, he will look for ways to fix the legal immigration system by making it more open and transparent.

Romney added that he’d support allocating funds for Trump’s plan to build a wall on the Mexican-American border.

“I think we need to have a barrier against the southern border. I think it’s necessary, but not sufficient.”

To really solve illegal immigration, Romney said he’s in favor of a plan to punish American employers if they hire illegal immigrants. He also would support a deal to give legal status to “Dreamers,” who were young immigrants protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

Romney expressed strong support for the Second Amendment and said he believes each state should be able to decide how to manage its gun laws. If elected, Romney will seek to impose laws to ban bump stocks and make sure the federal background check system is organized.

Mitt Romney is shown how to code by a student at the Dixie Technical College during a campaign stop in St. George, St. George, Utah, May 21, 2018 | File photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“Other laws that refer to safety and guns and school safety, which is a real concern of mine and many others, those things can be better managed at the state level,” Romney said. “If states can manage something, get it back to the state, get it out of the federal government. The federal government is in our hair in way too many ways, and I want to get them out of my hair as much as possible.”

Romney also said he wants to move much of public lands from federal control to the control of individual states, like how Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments were shrunk in Southern Utah last year.

Connections to Southern Utah

Romney said he loves St. George, and many of his ancestors helped settle Southern Utah. His great-great-grandfather Miles Romney was the architect on the St. George temple for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a religion Mitt Romney is still a proud member of.

“We’re fifth generation Utahns — we took a little time off to go to Massachusetts to go to school and work, but I’m back to Utah,” Romney said with a smile.

Utah has been home for him for the past 10 years, Romney said. He also has two sons and nine grandchildren who live in the state.

“I just want to see people get out and vote and to demonstrate their commitment to the democratic process,” Romney said.

Romney is slated to be a keynote speaker at the 2018 Business Summit in St. George on Wednesday morning.

Email: sricks@stgnews.com

Twitter:  @STGnews | @SpencerRicks

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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27 Comments

  • mshaw June 12, 2018 at 10:49 pm

    Romney is a carpet bagger and he will not get my vote !

  • westernperson June 12, 2018 at 11:10 pm

    Mitt will not get our vote due to his poor performance during the debates with Obama. He did not mention why Obama had all of his records sealed and so much more which I will not mention here. Vote for Dr. Kennedy.

    • reddirt June 13, 2018 at 1:19 pm

      Well said western, I totally agree with your assessment. If Romney could not even stage a decent attempt against Obama ( with so many hanging curve balls to hit homeruns with) I dare say he is not who I would want to represent me. Totally the problem with lifetime political candidates is that , even when they are trying to appeal to the average man, they can’t due to a lack of real world experiences in the here and now. It’s great that Mitt is being shown how to code in the photo above, maybe he could do that instead of insulting the Utah voter with his lack of common sense.

  • John June 13, 2018 at 1:05 am

    RINO RINO RINO Go away mittens, you are a liar and all you care about is yourself. Go back to MA. Vote for anybody other than this flip flopping con man

  • Eric June 13, 2018 at 1:11 am

    Gun owners have a real reason to be concerned about Romney.

    In 2004 Romney said: “Deadly assault weapons have no place in Massachusetts. These guns are not made for recreation or self-defense.” But Romney banned the same class of semi-automatic rifles that left is trying to ban now. You can bet your bottom dollar that, in the senate, after like a shooting, Romney will team with the Dems and push for a gun ban.

    And it’s possible that Romney would be in there with a Democratic president after ~ 2020. We need to spread the word to gun owners that Romney is going a serious threat to the 2nd Amendment.

  • Striker4 June 13, 2018 at 5:56 am

    I’ll vote for who I decide to vote on…not anything based on your ranting and whining ..go get your pacifier and chill out

    • Real Life June 13, 2018 at 10:20 am

      Felons aren’t allowed to vote.

    • John June 13, 2018 at 12:38 pm

      the one strikeout votes for will lose..LOL

      • jaybird June 14, 2018 at 8:06 am

        Get your head out of the toilet. Oh, forgot, you ARE a toilet (john).

        • John June 15, 2018 at 5:53 pm

          right jailbird, you can’t vote. Felons can’t vote.

  • Not_So_Much June 13, 2018 at 6:46 am

    Don’t paid political ads have to be labeled as such?

  • Carpe Diem June 13, 2018 at 7:31 am

    No thank you, Mittens. As soon as you lose this election, we expect you to ramp up your Billy Kristol NeverTrump nonsense yet again.

    #Kennedy

  • Kilroywashere June 13, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    Ok, I was undecided. Truly. This country needs action, not words. If Romney wants to play the he said, she said, bullpucky, and be a do nothing politician, focussing on rhetoeical responses to mainstream media memes as well as the Presidents tweets, might as well be George Stephanopolous. We desperately need immigration reform. The current laws are outdated and played by immigration lawyers. This is to protect our sovereignty as an independent nation. Sorry, don’t want another politician that talks on TV shows to get attention, and does, nothing to make this country better. We need a doer. P. Trump may be endorsing him, but I don’t think it is wholehearted, and likely a negotiation tactic in case he wins. KENNEDY JUST GOT MY VOTE. Will try him out,

  • David June 13, 2018 at 1:04 pm

    Please ask yourselves ONE question before you decide to give your vote to Romney. Here is the question:

    If Romney was not not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints what other reason do you have to vote for a person who is not and never has been a true resident of Utah?

    If you have no other reason or even better reasons for giving him your vote, then do not make that mistake and vote for Dr. Mike Kennedy, a man who has actually made Utah his home and raised his family here!

    • PogoStik June 13, 2018 at 6:03 pm

      I wondered when someone was going to drag the LDS church into this discussion.

  • No Filter June 13, 2018 at 1:34 pm

    @JennyWilsonUT

  • DB June 13, 2018 at 4:38 pm

    “Romney, 71, “…..”Romney said he definitely won’t be running for president again, and he will likely seek to only serve two to three terms as a senator. After his time in the Senate, Romney said he’d “probably” be retired.”…Please, give me a break! I’ve lost track of where you actually live. Time to hang it up, CA or MA, your choice.

    • PogoStik June 13, 2018 at 5:28 pm

      Romney really hasn’t had to work a day in his life if he didn’t want to. His Daddy left him so much money from General Motors. He works just to be busy. Try golfing, playing bocce or bridge instead, Mitt!

  • comments June 13, 2018 at 5:09 pm

    <3 mittens <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

    <3 these are little hearts 😉

  • PogoStik June 13, 2018 at 5:15 pm

    This idiot’s TV ad is about the massive deficit, and how he will be a ”deficit hawk.” Didn’t Congress just give away over $1 trillion to the wealthy and to corporations? So what’s that mean? Is he going to put that burden on us middle and low income families who didn’t get anything from the tax give-away? His ad is the most uninformed I’ve seen. He’s so aloof!

  • Uncle Rico June 13, 2018 at 7:33 pm

    Mitt is a snake, a viper. but all you LDS Cult members are gonna vote him in just because he believes a man can become a God!

  • mmsandie June 13, 2018 at 8:26 pm

    I love the comments, mitt was governor of Massachusetts and didn’t live there, he used his sons address.
    Anyone that associates the,selves with Trump will never get my vote.. he said after failing to become president he wanted to spend more time with his family . Ha he has enough money so he will never help the. poor. or middle class he has never 3xperienced their needs

  • mmsandie June 13, 2018 at 8:27 pm

    I love the comments, mitt was governor of Massachusetts and didn’t live there, he used his sons address.
    Anyone that associates the,selves with Trump will never get my vote.. he said after failing to become president he wanted to spend more time with his family . Ha he has enough money so he will never help the. poor. or middle class he has never their needs

  • jaybird June 13, 2018 at 9:40 pm

    #Kennedy

  • mesaman June 14, 2018 at 7:26 pm

    If you whiners can keep your panties on for two more weeks you’ll know whether to cheer or scurry over to the dungbeetle party because your poster boy didn’t win.

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