Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, convened a roundtable on Thursday morning to discuss vaping-related illnesses. Afterward, he took questions from reporters about a range of topics, from the impeachment inquiry to the Trump administration’s decision to pull the remaining U.S. troops out of Syria.
Below are highlights of the discussion.
On President Trump’s Twitter insults, including calling him a “pompous ass”:
I don’t follow the president on Twitter, so I don’t see all of his tweets. If you get concerned about criticism [in Congress], you’d be in the wrong business, so I just don’t worry about those things. My job is to try to represent the people in the state as well as I can.
Generally, I’m with the president on policy. I agree with him most of the time, but not all of the time. If I don’t agree, I’ll point it out.
Mitt Romney never knew how to win. He is a pompous “ass” who has been fighting me from the beginning, except when he begged me for my endorsement for his Senate run (I gave it to him), and when he begged me to be Secretary of State (I didn’t give it to him). He is so bad for R’s!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 5, 2019
On Trump asking foreign governments to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden:
I think everyone understands that asking a foreign government to investigate one’s political opponent is wrong. I don’t think there’s any exception to that. People may try and stay silent and not talk about it at this stage, and I understand that, because they want to wait until the process plays out and see what ultimately comes forward. But there’s no question that on its face, asking China to investigate Mr. Biden — asking Ukraine to do so — that’s simply the wrong thing to do.
On why he is the only Republican speaking out on the issue:
I do what I think is right and let the others make their own decisions.
On impeachment and the impeachment inquiry:
As to whether the president should be removed or impeached, that’s something which I would have to consider down the road. On that topic, I’m really not going to weigh in at this stage. I’d have to look at the evidence as it’s presented.
I haven’t spoken with any other Republican senator about the impeachment process, either in person or by email or text. I haven’t discussed that with anybody.
Has the president done some things I think are wrong? Yes. But the decision as to whether or not to remove the president is one that would have to be made upon further analysis and evidence that’s brought forward, I presume through the House process.
On whether the White House should cooperate with the inquiry:
I’m not going to weigh in as to what the White House does on the process or what the House does. I’m going to let them work it out amongst themselves. The Constitution lays out the process. I’m sure that will guide both of them in that deliberation, but I’m not going to try to give advice to one side or the other.
Ultimately, the House will make its decision and bring forward their decision to the Senate and at that point, we’ll have to weigh that evidence.
On the Trump administration’s decision to pull troops out of Syria, resulting in Turkish attacks on Kurdish forces, which were previously backed by the U.S.:
The president’s decision in Syria, I think, was a mistaken one. It’s a tragic day for the people who’ve lost their lives and I think it’s very sad for American foreign policy to show that we were unwilling to stand by the people who worked with us, our allies and our friends, the Kurds.
On whether Romney himself would ever run for president again:
There is no circumstance that I can conceive of that would have me running for a national office again. I’ve tried that twice. Twice is enough, so I’m not doing that again.
On Trump’s re-election chances:
Whether you support the president or not, I think he’s by far the most likely to get re-elected. I think he’s more likely to be elected than would be the Democratic opponent. I’ve said that for some time. I think the Democrats are moving in a direction that is out of the mainstream of their own party — it would make it very difficult to replace the president electorally.
On the vaping-related illnesses and his new bill, Ending New Nicotine Dependencies (ENND) Act, which would regulate vaping devices and ban flavored e-cigarettes:
Sen. [Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon] and myself have put this legislation together, so it’s bipartisan. The question is will the tobacco lobby and big tobacco money and now the vaping lobby as well, will they be able to push back in such a way as to try and strip out key elements that would allow them to save the growth of this extraordinary epidemic … addicting our kids to the very products we fought for decades to get our adults off of.
I met with the FDA a couple of weeks ago and they indicated that they are looking to Juul and other companies to bring forward safety analyses to bring to the FDA. They should have done this a long time ago.
If adults want to vape and have tobacco-flavored product, that’s their right to do so, but let’s not push this into our schools [with flavors targeted at teenagers, including bubblegum].