Listen To The Full Interview Below:
Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) joined the Guy Benson Show to react to Biden’s wide-ranging formal press conference were the president casted doubt on the legitimacy of future elections and appeared to invite Putin to invade Ukraine.
Senator Romney reacted to Biden’s attempt to squirm out’ of remarks linking Republicans with segregationist saying,
“I’m having a hard time finding a difference in that distinction he is describing. If one were to say, you know, if you do the following thing, you’re on the side of Vladimir Putin. I think it’s a pretty clear indication. It’s sure — it’s sure not lining up with American values. And to say to someone, because you don’t support the bill that I support, you’re on the side of Bull Connor and Jefferson Davis, that’s — that’s a — and George Wallace, that’s a pretty clear indication of, well, that someone is awful. And that’s a — and racist. And that’s obviously unfortunate. It’s where the president went, and I can see he’s trying to squirm out of it, but unfortunately, he did it, and it was highly offensive to a lot of people.”
Senator Romney reacted to Biden’s comments on Ukraine saying,
“Well, it’s hard to interpret it other than suggesting that Vladimir Putin can do some things with his troops and that — that those will be not met by as stern a response as if he does others. And that’s not a message you want to give someone that has over 100,000 troops lined up on the border, as well as extraordinary firepower. And so, it is unacceptable to interfere in the sovereignty of a neighbor just because you’re stronger, and that’s what Vladimir Putin is threatening to do. So, he should’ve made that very, very clear. He did not. He — you know, love the man for his heart and his goodness, but he does get himself in trouble with some of the things he says. And in this case, he not only got himself in trouble, he clearly got Ukraine in trouble, got our allies in trouble and got America and our interests in trouble. And it’s — it’s terribly damaging and very unfortunate.”
FULL Transcript Below:
GUY BENSON, FOX RADIO HOST: Joining us now is U.S. Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah. And Senator, it’s great to have you back.
SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): Thank you, Guy. Good to be with you.
BENSON: Well, you’ve been speaking your mind on the Senate floor quite a lot in these last few weeks. Some things have been said by the president that seems to have irked you, and one of those things was uttered down in Georgia last week. Cut 24.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The consequential moments in history, they present a choice. Do you want to be the side — on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace? Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor? Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BENSON: He was asked about that at his press conference yesterday. I know that you take great exception to the words that he used, as have other Republicans and also some Democrats. He was unhappy with the question being asked of him yesterday and insisted that you and others have it all wrong. That’s not what he did, he wasn’t making those comparisons. Cut 23.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
PHILIP WEGMANN, REALCLEARPOLITICS REPORTER: But you campaigned and you ran on a return to civility, and I know that you dispute the characterization that you called folks who would oppose those voting bills as being Bull Connor or George Wallace, but you said that they would be sort of in the same camp.
BIDEN: No, I didn’t say that. Look what I said. Go back and read what I said and tell me if you think I called anyone who voted on the side of the position taken by Bull Connor that they were Bull Connor. You have to speak from your heart as well as your head.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BENSON: Senator Romney, he’s saying he didn’t really say those things, and he was just really arguing that you would be on the side of those segregationists and traitors, but not really akin to them. Does that response and distinction satisfy you?
ROMNEY: I’m having a hard time finding a difference in that distinction he is describing. If one were to say, you know, if you do the following thing, you’re on the side of Vladimir Putin. I think it’s a pretty clear indication. It’s sure — it’s sure not lining up with American values. And to say to someone, because you don’t support the bill that I support, you’re on the side of Bull Connor and Jefferson Davis, that’s — that’s a — and George Wallace, that’s a pretty clear indication of, well, that someone is awful. And that’s a — and racist. And that’s obviously unfortunate. It’s where the president went, and I can see he’s trying to squirm out of it, but unfortunately, he did it, and it was highly offensive to a lot of people.
BENSON: Is this the same Joe Biden who said this about you and Paul Ryan back in 2012? Cut 48, I remember this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BIDEN: Look at what they value and look at their budget and what they’re proposing. Romney wants to let the — he said in the first 100 days, he’s going to let the big banks, once again, write their own rules, unchain Wall Street.
BIDEN: They’re going to put you all back in chains.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BENSON: I’m sure you remember that as well, Senator. Does he have this kind of propensity to race bait when he feels like he’s backed into a corner?
ROMNEY: Well, that was clearly a rhetorical flourish that got him in real trouble and was across the line. I’m sure he recognizes that. And, you know, from time to time, he will do that. And you know, when its politics and you’re attacking the other side, it’s unfortunate. But what we saw yesterday was he — he went down a couple of roads that had serious foreign policy consequence and may result in dramatic impact on American interests and on the interests of our allies. And so, he gets wound up and says things that are really quite damaging. And I think in the case of what he said about people being racist, if you will, that — or suggesting we’re in that camp, that that hurt his effort. I think likewise what he said about Ukraine and Vladimir Putin and Russia, those things hurt us as well.
BENSON: Yes, and speaking of that, let’s listen to the quote that really got the most attention, at least on the foreign policy front, quote “minor incursion”. This was cut 19.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BIDEN: And so, I think what you’re going to see is that Russia will be held accountable if it invades, and it depends on what it does. It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and then we end up having to fight about what to do and not to do, et cetera. But if they actually do what they’re capable of doing with the force amassed on the border, it is going to be a disaster for Russia if they further grade — invade Ukraine.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BENSON: If it’s just a minor incursion, then there might be a fight within NATO, he said, about what to do. How did you interpret that?
ROMNEY: Well, it’s hard to interpret it other than suggesting that Vladimir Putin can do some things with his troops and that — that those will be not met by as stern a response as if he does others. And that’s not a message you want to give someone that has over 100,000 troops lined up on the border, as well as extraordinary firepower. And so, it is unacceptable to interfere in the sovereignty of a neighbor just because you’re stronger, and that’s what Vladimir Putin is threatening to do. So, he should’ve made that very, very clear. He did not. He — you know, love the man for his heart and his goodness, but he does get himself in trouble with some of the things he says. And in this case, he not only got himself in trouble, he clearly got Ukraine in trouble, got our allies in trouble and got America and our interests in trouble. And it’s — it’s terribly damaging and very unfortunate.
BENSON: On the matter of Russia broadly, not to traumatize you, Senator, with multiple 2012 flashbacks. However, I’m so old that I remember you identified Russia as the top geopolitical adversary of the United States when you were running for president, and that was met with gales of laughter and scorn and ridicule, including from this famous voice in cut 50.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: General Romney, I’m glad that you recognize that Al-Qaeda’s a threat, because a few months ago when you were asked what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia, not Al-Qaeda, you said Russia. And the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back, because, you know, the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BENSON: Do you feel vindicated these days, Senator, based on your assessment of Putin at that time?
ROMNEY: Well, I don’t worry about vindication. I know I was right, which is that Russia at the time was our number one geopolitical adversary, in that they were blocking us in every initiative we undertook. They were supporting the world’s worst actors, whether that was in Venezuela or other places — North Korea, of course. That didn’t mean they were our biggest threat. It’s interesting how sometimes people quote you, but they don’t quote you exactly right. In this case, Barack Obama suggested that I thought Russia was our biggest threat, I said no, actually, Iran and Al-Qaeda was our biggest threat at the time. But Russia was our geopolitical adversary, meaning they were playing geopolitics against us. Now, things are different today, of course. Russia still plays that role. But China is the greatest challenge to American leadership. And that is something which is increasingly clear I think to people on both sides of the aisle.
BENSON: And we’re going to come back to China in just a moment. But you’re right, sometimes people will quote words or quote a paraphrase that actually distorts what was said. In the case of this interview today, we played the exact words of President Biden on Bull Connor and Jefferson Davis, and he’s the one insisting that we didn’t hear precisely what he said out loud for everyone to understand what the meaning was. On the issue that he was addressing in that speech down in Georgia last week, so-called voting rights, and then advocating for the filibuster to be blown up in the U.S. Senate, that battle came to an end last night on the floor of the Senate, 52 to 48. Really by a thread, the Senate hung onto really its fundamental core as the cooling saucer of this process, our democratic process in our republic. Only two members of the other party voted with every Republican to maintain a tool, the filibuster, that Democrats have used hundreds of times in recent years. They used it last week, as a matter of fact. They have called it vital to our democracy, a guardrail, Chuck Schumer used that term. He said they have to build a firewall around it to protect it back when Republicans were in charge. Thirty Senate Democrats signed a letter during the Trump administration insisting that the filibuster be maintained as is, no changes. Almost every single one of them. The only exception on that letter, Joe Manchin, flip-flopped and changed their position really with the thinnest of veneers as their excuse. Last night 48 out of 50. I just want to ask what your reflections are now that that experiment has failed. And also given just the brazenness of their reversal on something that they were passionately in favor of, the filibuster. And then, the first opportunity they had to get rid of it for their own expedient power almost every one of them lined up to do it even though if you signed the letter. Even the guy who spearheaded the letter, Chris Coons. They all did it except for Manchin. Does that give you pause in trusting them to perhaps work with them on other matters in the future given the value of their word?
ROMNEY: What I have learned through my life, not just last night, but over the years, is that when a person is confronted with an item of extraordinary personal interest, which may go against their fundamental principles, it’s remarkable to see how the mind begins to work to rationalize doing what’s in your personal interest. And that I see time and time again. And I wish I could say it’s never happened to me or to anybody else I respect. But you got to guard against it. And I’m afraid too many people went along, one because they were pressured by leadership, two, because it was popular with their base and with the people at MSNBC. And I was a little surprised that more people did not say, you know what, I signed the letter insisting on keeping the filibuster only three years ago, I’m going to abide by what I said and signed at that time. And I respect — I’ll tell you, I respect Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. I think they demonstrated some of the extraordinary — perhaps the most extraordinary of political courage I’ve seen during my political career.
BENSON: Did you say that to them personally?
ROMNEY: I did, actually, and was able to shake Kyrsten Sinema’s hand before she left the floor. Joe Manchin got out of there in a hurry. But I saw him today and expressed that to him when I saw him.
BENSON: Our guest is Senator Mitt Romney of Utah on the “Guy Benson Show.” More with the senator right after this break.
BENSON: I’m Guy Benson, joined by Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney. President Biden suggested twice during the press conference yesterday that, unless the Democrats could get this federal takeover so-called voting rights scheme through, they want to do it with zero — and you pointed this out, I think very well, very eloquently in one of your floor speeches — you said they want no Republican input whatsoever, no Republican buy-in. They weren’t even allowing amendments to be proposed to a completely partisan rewrite of our entire election law regime in this country. And they want to break the Senate rules in order to do it. It’s really a breathtaking thing that they just attempted, falling again, just short of achieving it. Biden suggested that absent those changes that the Democrats want with again, zero bipartisan cooperation, he’s not so sure if future elections will be free and fair and legitimate in this country. He was pressed on it about 2022 and beyond. He said that he wasn’t ready to say that they would be legitimate. He said that they might be illegitimate, it depends on certain things. It kind of felt like some blackmail — do this partisan radical thing that I demand, or maybe democracy will be dead. He was casting doubt on the fairness and legitimacy of our elections. He was asked about that same issue again on a follow-up, an opportunity for a mulligan, when a reporter circled back on it. But he doubled down in cut 26.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: You said that it depends. Do you — do you think that it would in any way be illegitimate?
BIDEN: Oh yeah, I think it easily could be illegitimate. Imagine — imagine if in fact Trump had succeeded in convincing Pence to not count the votes. Imagine if —
UNKNOWN: In regard to 2022, sir. The —
BIDEN: — 2022. I mean, imagine if those attempts to say that the count was not legit, you have to recount it or we’re not going to count — we’re going to discard the following votes. I mean, sure — I’m not saying it’s going to be legit. It’s (ph) — the increase — the prospect of being illegitimate is in direct proportion to us not being able to get these — these reforms passed.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BENSON: So, the legitimacy of the election, is in the president’s mind depend on the so-called reforms that he wants being passed. They have not been passed. The vice president seemed to echo this sentiment this morning on national television. The White House press secretary says, no, no that’s not what they really mean. But the majority whip in the House, Jim Clyburn, said, no, that’s exactly what we mean. I wonder what you make of these high-ranking Democrats sort of undermining American’s faith in our democratic process and the electoral system if they don’t get their way. I could have sworn that they spent the last year or so telling us this was the most reckless, irresponsible thing that a leader could do.
ROMNEY: Well, it is a damaging assertion, that we’ve been down this road before. And that is that when you have a president of the United States suggesting that elections are illegitimate in the democracy which is the leading democracy in the world, it doesn’t give much hope for people in other countries. And it certainly makes people in this country wonder whether they should spend the time to go out and vote. So, it’s a very unfortunate thing to happen on either side of the aisle. You are right, the Democrats decried this when it came from Republicans and from President Trump. And yet, they’re going down the same path. And they may say, well wait, we’re not the same as Donald Trump — and that’s true, they’re not the same as Donald Trump. They’re different people and they have different values, and perspectives, and issues. But they’re doing the same thing, and it has the same consequence. And the reality is that elections in our country are not perfect, of course, you can’t have perfection — but they come very close to being as legitimate and fair as you can have. And the results that come out of the election, which have been devastated by audits, are fair and accurate.
BENSON: Should Biden come out and say that, and say, I was wrong, and I shouldn’t have suggested otherwise?
ROMNEY: Well, I think both President Biden and President Trump have a policy of never apologizing. And — maybe that’s not fair, President Biden did apologize for not having enough tests made in his conference yesterday, for COVID. But I think it’s unlikely that President Biden will come out and say that. But he will certainly emphasize a greater degree of confidence in the elections. And now that his favored election reform bill was defeated — and now we can actually talk about what things our country does need to improve our system. As (ph) improvement is always appropriate. But the idea that somehow our elections are illegitimate unless we get our way, that’s simply unacceptable.
BENSON: Very briefly and finally, Senator, you mentioned China. The Olympics are upcoming in Beijing, we’ve talked about this before, you have a long history with the Olympics back in the Salt Lake City games. We’ve seen athletes being urged not to bring their personal devices for fear of spying and espionage from the Chinese. We saw a quote from a Chinese official threatening athletes if they speak out or do anything that would violate the spirit of the Olympics or Chinese law, that there could be consequences for those athletes. Your take on that, briefly, sir?.
ROMNEY: Well, first of all, I think it’s irresponsible for the International Olympic Committee to grant an Olympics to an authoritarian state — and particularly a state like China, which is executing genocide in their nation, which is repressing minorities, and which has put in place laws which threaten the athletes themselves. Sending the games there was irresponsible, and I know they’ve taken action. I’ve spoken with the Head — Dr. Bach — of the IOC about this. I believe they’ve taken action to prevent something of this nature from happening in the future. But we are where we are. Our athletes have a tough decision to make. They’re going to make it individually, but most of them have sacrificed their entire life to be ready right now to participate in the Olympics. And I don’t want to penalize those athletes that want to compete and do so representing their country, and frankly, I’m looking forward to hearing our national anthem played in China.
BENSON: Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah. We really appreciate your time with us today, sir, and we look forward to next time we have a chance to chat.
ROMNEY: Thanks, Guy, good to be with you.
BENSON: You bet. Mitt Romney on “The Guy Benson Show.” We’ll be right back.