Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) took aim at the Trump administration’s coronavirus response on Tuesday night without mentioning President Donald Trump explicitly by name, trashing the president’s “management style” in a video chat with Georgetown students.
“The speed of our response looked slow compared to other people. That first phase will not stand out as a great moment in American leadership,” Romney said, noting that the administration seemed to be slow to ramp up in handling the pandemic, “We didn’t look real strong, and that’s kind of an understatement.”
Assuring students the issue wasn’t necessarily with President Donald Trump, with whom Romney has had an ongoing “hot-and-cold relationship,” in the words of Yahoo News, the Senator quickly added, “I’m not blaming this administration.”
But, he said, he’d be handling the coronavirus pandemic differently if he were in charge.
“It’s hard to say to all 50 governors, you guys all do your thing,” Romney said, referring to the Trump administration’s decision to allow governors to seek out personal protective equipment for health care workers largely on their own. “I think the federal coordination has been less than my personal style.”
Romney also noted that he would engage “real experts in crisis management … people who have dealt with this more than I have,” and that true management requires “recognizing you’re not the smartest guy in the room.”
“In a setting like this, had I been the president of the United States, I’d say, ‘You know what? I need some real experts in crisis management … people who have really dealt with this more than I have,’” Romney said, suggesting that Trump reach out to former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who guided his state through recovery from Hurricane Sandy.
Presumably, Romney was also referring to himself; he was the only Republican Senator not selected for the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force despite his experience in resurrecting the Salt Lake City Olympic games, and handling a number of financial disasters when he was in private practice.
Asked why Romney was excluded from the task force, President Trump was blunt: “I don’t really want his advice.”
The pair have been at odds since before Trump took office. Romney was quietly involved in the movement pressing against declaring Trump the Republican nominee in the 2016 presidential election and, despite some initial overtures — and even a brief flirtation with being Trump’s Secretary of State — Romney has largely led the anti-Trump resistance in Congress, now that he’s taken over as the junior Senator from Utah.
In January, Romney was the only Republican Senator to vote to remove Trump from office after the president had been impeached by House Democrats (although Romney voted to convict on only one of the two counts leveled against the president).
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