Mitt Romney indicts Trump's moral character by calling out alleged affair and appeals to racists

After calling Barack Obama an "honorable man," Romney rebukes Trump for doing things which are "not honorable"

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published October 21, 2019 11:17AM (EDT)

Donald Trump and Mitt Romney dine at Jean Georges restaurant, November 29, 2016 in New York City. (Getty/Drew Angerer)
Donald Trump and Mitt Romney dine at Jean Georges restaurant, November 29, 2016 in New York City. (Getty/Drew Angerer)

While Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, believes that former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden are honorable men, there are things President Donald Trump has done which he  considers to be dishonorable.

"He has elements, I'm sure, of honor in his life," Romney told "Axios on HBO" in an interview that aired Sunday night. "And there's things that I think are not honorable, and I mention that because of the payment to a porn star for sexual relations outside of marriage. Look, I'm one of those who believes that we have a responsibility to be honorable and faithful to our wives."

The 2012 Republican presidential nominee's comments stood in stark contrast to what he said about Obama and Biden. Romney said that he believes the former president is "an honorable man" and "a good family man" even though he "made a lot of mistakes" as "most presidents do." While he acknowledged that he does not know Biden "terribly well," Romney added that "from everything I've seen and the interactions I've had with him, he seems to be a man of honor."

In the interview, which served as a stinging indictment of Trump's moral character, Romney stressed the importance of "character" in America's leaders and said that he is "most critical" of Trump for using rhetoric that "appeared to be appealing to racism or misogyny."

"It's important for our leaders to do things that unify us, that welcome people who come here legally as immigrants, that in no way signal to anybody in America that they're less of an American because of where they came from ,or their sexual orientation, or their race or their religion," Romney said.

The Utah senator also said that he strongly disapproved of Trump publicly asking China to probe Biden, saying that "we certainly can't have presidents asking foreign countries to provide something of political value. That is, after all, against the law."

Romney has criticized Trump's language in the past while stopping short of outright accusing the president of bigotry. In July, he took issue with Trump saying that the four congresswomen of color who form the "squad" — Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan — should "go back" to their supposed countries of origin. At the same time, he did not refer to those remarks as "racist."

"A lot of people have been using the word," Romney said when asked if the tweet was racist. "My own view is: That what was said and what was tweeted was destructive, was demeaning, was disunifying and frankly was very wrong."

He later added, "To suggest to people who are American citizens that they should go home or they should, 'Go back where they came from' is simply over the line. It's wrong. It's destructive to the American spirit."

Romney has also predicted that Trump will be re-elected in 2020, despite having been publicly critical of the then-reality TV star's presidential candidacy during the 2016 cycle. Last year, Romney told a group of Republican donors in Utah that he believed Trump would win a second term both because of a strong economy and the inability of Democrats to not nominate someone "who is really out of the mainstream of American thought."


By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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