ST. GEORGE — Mitt Romney shared his plan, if elected to the U.S. Senate, to find common ground and work with his political rivals during an address Friday to the Washington County Republican Women.
“If I get elected with your help, I’m going to meet with the Democrats and there will be some I’ll look at and say ‘There’s no hope; we’re never going to get anything done,'” Romney said during his speech to 125 people at the Abbey Inn in St. George. “But there are others who’ll say they’re there to try to make a difference and make America better, and we’ll try to find common ground.”
Romney, the 71-year-old former Massachusetts governor, 2012 GOP presidential nominee and U.S. Senate candidate in Utah, also touched on his goals to lower the federal budget deficit and hold corrupt government officials accountable.
Romney’s trip to Southern Utah also included a stop at Cedar High School in Cedar City and a tour of the new Innovation Plaza at Dixie State University.
Holding government accountable
Praising House Speaker Paul Ryan’s decision Wednesday to remove two Republican members of Congress from their committee assignments after they were indicted for crimes, Romney said those who are found to be corrupt should resign from office or be forcibly removed.
“I will call on people who are found to have violated the public trust to leave government service,” Romney told St. George News in a meeting before his speech.
Any talk about consequences against President Donald Trump like impeachment should wait until special counsel Robert Mueller completes his full investigation into possible Russian collusion with Trump’s presidential campaign, Romney said, adding that he fully supports the Mueller investigation and will protect the investigation from being shut down if he’s elected, he said.
“I presume when (Mueller’s investigation) is completed, we’ll have either an exoneration of the president … or we will have a recommendation that wrongful behavior occurred. It’s premature to describe what the sanctions might be when the report hasn’t been completed.”
During his speech, Romney praised the president. He predicted Trump’s win in 2020 and lauded him for steering the economy in a good direction.
When someone in the audience asked him about his current stance on the president, given Romney’s criticism of Trump during the 2016 campaign, Romney said he’ll stand with the president “when I think he’s right for Utah and the country, and whenever I think he’s wrong for Utah and the country, I’ll tell him I think he’s wrong.
“If the president says something that I think is destructive to our culture, I’ll point that out.”
Southern Utah issues
One of the issues Romney hopes to tackle if he’s elected to the U.S. Senate is the Antiquities Act, which allows presidents to establish national monuments. The Antiquities Act was used by former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama to create Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bear’s Ears national monuments in Southern Utah, which were both dramatically reduced last year by Trump.
Romney said he will seek support among other senators in Western states to pass legislation that would require the sitting president to gain approval from state legislatures before the Antiquities Act can be used to designate national monuments.
— Romney for Utah (@Romney4Utah) September 7, 2018
The proposed pipeline to provide water from Lake Powell to Washington County is also a necessary plan that Romney said he’d help fight for if elected. If Utah doesn’t build the Lake Powell Pipeline to receive all the water Southern Utah is entitled to, Romney said other states like California may one day gain access to the water downstream.
“Let’s get all the water we’re entitled to,” Romney said. “Clearly, the pipeline project is a priority for me and for our state.”
‘This nation is good’
Toward the end of Romney’s remarks, a heckler burst into the room and shouted “We’ve got to end vaccinations.” The heckler was quickly ushered away by audience members as Romney continued to speak about what makes America great.
“We’re great because this nation is strong and we’re great because this nation is good,” Romney said. “And the same thing is true for our state.”
After Romney’s speech, the Washington County Republican Women presented Romney with a $620 donation to his campaign. Lesa Sandberg, president of the Washington County Republican Women, said she was proud to have Romney speak to the organization about the issues they care about and encouraged everyone in attendance to vote for him.
“I like his willingness to want to try to work with other people and to find success (in Washington, D.C.) instead of gridlock,” Sandberg said.
If he’s elected to the Senate, Romney said he hopes to follow in the “honest, heroic and courageous” example of the late Sen. John McCain.
“When faced with something that is popular or politically attractive versus my principles, I hope to abide by my principles,” he said.
It’s not that I’ve been perfect my whole life in that regard. I look back and I see some times when I let my political instincts draw me more than principle, and I hope to learn from those experiences as John McCain did.
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