"Well, this hasn't been the focus of his rhetoric, apparently, and I think it's a great human tragedy, without question," Romney told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room" when asked where Trump's leadership is as the President focuses on other issues amid the worsening pandemic.
"The extraordinary loss of life is heartbreaking — and in some respects unnecessary. Not all respects, but we've relaxed our standards as individuals," added Romney, who represents Utah. "Some states haven't had mask mandates, and from Washington we have not had a constant, consistent plan and plea for people to wear masks, to social-distance, to take all the measures that would reduce the spread of this disease."
The comments from Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, come as Trump continues to push baseless claims of widespread voter fraud and focuses his attention on potential presidential pardons, while cases surge around the country and pandemic-related records are continuously broken. Wednesday was the pandemic's deadliest day in the U.S., with more than 2,800 reported deaths.
The criticism also comes the same day that President-elect Joe Biden told CNN's Jake Tapper that he will ask Americans to wear masks for the first 100 days after he takes office, focusing on a critical public health measure that Romney says has become politicized.
It's unfortunate that this became a political issue. It's not political. This is public health, and unfortunately we have not made that message clear enough to the American people, and people are dying because of it.
–Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah
"It's unfortunate that this became a political issue. It's not political," the senator told Blitzer. "This is public health, and unfortunately we have not made that message clear enough to the American people, and people are dying because of it."
Asked by Blitzer if the resistance by some Republican governors to enacting health and safety measures could be costing lives, Romney said he thought so and called their inaction "unacceptable."
"Well, no question, unless you take this very, very seriously and communicate that this is not a political matter, this is not a matter of liberty, this is a matter of safety and public health," he said. "And we have people who are very, very sick, many people in the hospital. We have people who have died and are dying — it's unacceptable."
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