SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Mitt Romney doesn’t see himself as an establishment Republican.
“My slice of the Republican Party these days is about that big,” Romney said holding his hands about an inch apart. “I understand that.”
The freshman Utah senator said maybe he should consider himself a “renegade” Republican because he still believes that deficits and debt matter. He said he doesn’t like tariffs being placed on American allies.
“I think the likes of Putin and Kim Jong Un deserve censure rather than flattery,” he said in a speech Monday at the Sutherland Institute, a conservative public policy think tank. “I think demonstrating personal character is one of the most important responsibilities of the leader of the land or those who are called to service in any part of it.”
But when it comes to policies, Romney said he, for the most part, is very much in line with Republican conservative philosophy. Democrats, he said, are taking the country in a very different direction that would be “most unfortunate for our future.”
Romney spoke at a Sutherland Institute forum titled, “The Case for Conservatism.” He spent most of his time commenting on issues raised or not raised in the Democratic presidential debates, which he said he found “very entertaining” but lacking a “crouton” of good policy.
“Medicare for all” as touted by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren would be expensive, intrusive on freedom and an “unmitigated bust” in the United States, Romney said.
“The politics of that phrase is pretty good but I don’t think the policy of that is any good at all,” he said.
Romney called the Green New Deal “silliness, but he said he believes in climate change and global warming.
He said he has been hard on the Democratic debates, but that doesn’t mean he’s sold on everything the GOP is doing.
It will be difficult for Congress to pass any significant legislation on issues such as health care or immigration before the 2020 election,” he said. Democrats, he added, don’t want to do a deal on health care short of Medicare for all because that’s what the party’s presidential candidates are running on.
“I’m happy to be in the middle of the fight,” Romney said, adding that’s he’s probably right on some of his views and wrong on others. “I’m going to keep fighting for what I believe is best for Utah and best for the nation.”