In an interview with NBC News, Utah U.S. Senate candidate Mitt Romney said that he would not point to President Donald Trump as an example of a role model for his grandchildren, citing his "personal style."
I don’t think that I would point to the president as a role model for my grandkids on the basis of his personal style,” said Romney. “He has departed in some cases from the truth and has attacked in a way that I think is not entirely appropriate.”
Of the president's political track record, Romney said: "I believe his policies have been by and large a good deal better than I might have expected. But some of the things he’s said are not ones that I would aspire for my grandkids to adopt.”
"I believe his policies have been, by and large, a good deal better than I might have expected, but some of the thi… https://t.co/Cz7qB5Z9vn— NBC News (@NBC News) 1527605207.0
Romney expressed his approval for Trump's tax and regulatory policy but said his support would be conditional:
Where the President is right in my view on policy for Utah and for the country, I'll be with him. But if the President were to say something which is highly divisive, or racist, or misogynistic, well, I'll call him out on it, because I think it's important for people to know exactly where one stands.
Mitt Romney: "I don't think I would point to the president as a role model for my grandkids on the basis of his per… https://t.co/mm8Xr8hRBs— NBC Politics (@NBC Politics) 1527603637.0
Romney had previously called President Trump "a phony, a fraud."
Romney's statements come as he gears up for the June 26 Republican primary in the race to replace retiring Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT).
Romney's statements about the president's personal behavior, despite making headlines, are noticeably less charged than prior remarks he's made. In a piece for Vox, journalist Tara Golshan refers to Romney's statements as "surprisingly forgiving toward Trump’s repeated lies, offensive and inflammatory comments, and often rash policymaking tactics, given his position throughout the 2016 election cycle."
For example, in the NBC interview, Romney says Trump “has departed in some cases from the truth.” But in 2016, he said “dishonesty is Donald Trump’s hallmark” in a speech at University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics.
“There’s plenty of evidence that Mr. Trump is a con man, a fake. Mr. Trump has changed his positions not just over the years but over the course of the campaign,” Romney said at the time. “And on the Ku Klux Klan, daily for three days in a row.”
And although Romney now says Trump “has attacked in a way that I think is not entirely appropriate," his remarks in 2016 were considerably fiercer. Trump’s “brand of anger ... has led other nations into the abyss," Romney said at the time.
He also once said:
Think of Donald Trump’s personal qualities. The bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third-grade theatrics. You know, we have long referred to him as “The Donald.” He’s the only person in the entire country to whom we have added an article before his name, and it was not because he had attributes we admired...
Mr. Trump is directing our anger for less than noble purposes. He creates scapegoats of Muslims and Mexican immigrants. He calls for the use of torture. He calls for killing the innocent children and family members of terrorists. He cheers assaults on protesters. He applauds the prospect of twisting the Constitution to limit First Amendment freedom of the press.
Despite these statements––and more––Romney accepted Trump's endorsement for the Utah Senate seat, despite saying in 2016 that he would never accept a Trump endorsement.
Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, has come under fire since the NBC interview; many derided him for "dialing it back."
Mitt Romney believes Trump’s policies have been better than he expected. That tells you everything you need to know about Mitt.— Janet Johnson (@Janet Johnson) 1527612645.0
So Mitt Romney said Trump isn't a role model for his grandkids personally. But he likes his policies. Dear Family V… https://t.co/EDKRllpCCI— Yvette with a Y (@Yvette with a Y) 1527612690.0
Mitt Romney is doomed to turn against the only good things he does in public life, Massachusetts' health care refor… https://t.co/HJp354MZQX— LOLGOP (@LOLGOP) 1527600909.0
The president has not commented on Romney's statements. He has, however, faced heated criticism in recent days for propagating conspiracy theories, exemplified this morning when he claimed that the Russia investigation “will be MEDDLING with the mid-term elections” in November, suggesting that special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe intends to torpedo the GOP’s chances of consolidating their power in Congress.
Trump has long claimed that Mueller's investigation is politically motivated. Nor has he provided any proof. Although outlets such as CNN have reported that several members of Mueller’s team have donated to Democrats, the investigation into Russian meddling is a thoroughly bipartisan one and has also been the subject of several Republican-led Congressional inquiries.