ST. GEORGE — Mitt Romney stopped at Dixie High School Friday to speak about leadership before answering questions from students about Donald Trump and the “Fortnite” video game.
Romney, the Republican candidate hoping to represent Utah in the U.S. Senate, came to St. George in what will likely be his last trip to Southern Utah before election day. Speaking to a packed auditorium of history students, Romney started his remarks by asking all the students to raise their hands if they consider themselves as being conservative, liberal or “in between.”
Most of the students in the room raised their hands when Romney asked how many had political views that were “in between,” although a good portion of the students raised their hands when he asked how many were conservative. Only a handful of students raised their hands when Romney asked how many were liberal.
The majority of Romney’s speech to the students was nonpolitical. It focused on what makes a strong leader and why leadership is important in today’s world.
“Qualities of a good leader are essential in our country today and qualities that you can have whether you’re at the top, the bottom or the middle because leadership is so desperately needed in our great country,” Romney said while addressing the students.
When Romney started accepting questions from the students, his words quickly changed from those that could be in a motivational speech to those more common during a political campaign. One student asked him about his opinion on Trump, and Romney repeated a sentiment he’s shared with St. George News before.
Romney said he agrees with many of the actions Trump’s made in office, but he said he plans to speak out when Trump says something that is divisive, misogynistic or racist.
“I’m a Republican – I’m on the same team (as Trump),” he said. “When the captain of your team says something you disagree with that you think is significant, you either say something about it or people think that’s your opinion, as well.”
When asked by a student if Romney played the popular video game called “Fortnite,” Romney laughed and said he didn’t after first thinking the student asked him if he played sports.
“I read ‘Ready Player One,’ but I don’t play ‘Fortnite,'” Romney said.
Southern Utah issues
Before addressing the students, Romney sat down with St. George News to address some of the issues involving Southern Utah in Congress. Romney said he was in favor of the bills proposed by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, to build a northern corridor roadway through the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area.
“We may have to do a little trading and bargaining with other Senators and other congresspeople to see if we can get enough support to actually push the (northern corridor bills) through, but I will certainly support that effort,” he said.
Romney also said Stewart’s goal to make a new national park in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument may help settle the uncertainty around the national monument designation after Trump dramatically shrunk two national monuments in Southern Utah last year.
If he’s elected to serve in the Senate, Romney said he will work to modify the Antiquities Act, which allows U.S. presidents to designate and protect areas across the country as national monuments. He said he would get behind a bill sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, that would require Congress and state legislatures to approve any national monument proposed by the president.
“I think it’s a flawed process that a president can singlehandedly designate millions of acres to be national monuments,” he said. “There needs to be a better process.”
First goals if elected
Romney said one of his first goals if he is elected Senator would be to address the spending deficit and the national debt in Congress by making it clear he wouldn’t support any resolutions that break through spending caps.
He also said he’d like to work on fixing the “immigration mess” by securing the borders and making sure the legal immigration system is more transparent. Working with members of Congress from both sides of the political aisle is something Romney said he’ll need to do to accomplish such goals.
“I will endeavor to build personal relationships with Republicans as well as Democrats,” he said. “Some people say, ‘We can’t work with those Democrats.’ But if we don’t work with those Democrats, we’ll never have any new laws and we won’t solve any of those challenges we face. So we have to work with people from both parties.”
Romney said although he has lots of plans, he hasn’t started working on or writing any specific bills yet.
“First, you have to get elected,” he said.
Voters across Utah have the choice between Romney, Democrat Jenny Wilson, and a few third-party candidates in the Nov. 6 general election. Ballots have already been mailed out in Washington and Iron counties.
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