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WASHINGTON — Utah Sen. Mitt Romney called the heckling of President Joe Biden by two Republican congresswomen during his State of the Union speech "repulsive and repugnant."
Biden was in the middle of calling on Congress to pass legislation to help Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans suffering from exposure to toxic burn pits there that were used to incinerate waste, including medical and hazardous materials and jet fuel.
"When they came home, many of the world's fittest and best-trained warriors were never the same. Headaches. Numbness. Dizziness," Biden said. "A cancer that would put them in a flag-draped coffin."
"You put them there," Boebert shouted, according to reporters in the House chamber, just as Biden recalled his late son, Beau Biden, a military officer who lived near a burn pit while serving in Iraq and Kosovo, who died of brain cancer.
"Thirteen of them," Boebert added in a reference to the 13 U.S. service members, including Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover from Utah, who were killed during the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan.
Biden said he doesn't know for sure if a burn pit caused his son's brain cancer, or the diseases of many U.S. troops, but he's committed to finding out everything he can.
When Biden spoke about securing the U.S.-Mexico border, Boebert, and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., yelled "build the wall" in reference to former President Donald Trump's border protection plan.
"Well, it was obviously discourteous and, I think, totally inappropriate. We are not the English House of Commons," Romney said when asked about the incident during a video press call with Utah reporters Wednesday.
"We typically sit with respect for the president regardless of their party, and yelling out accusations … it's just really repugnant and repulsive."
Boebert posted on Twitter: "When Biden said flag draped coffins I couldn't stay silent. I told him directly. He put the 13 there. Our heroic servicemen and women deserve so much better."
Romney went on to call the outbursts "wrong." He said Republicans and Democrats on the House floor responded with a "quiet boo."
"Sometimes people in our own party do things that embarrass me," he said. "I was embarrassed last night as they did that."
Utah's junior senator isn't shy about calling out Republicans, including Trump, for behavior he deems inappropriate or unbecoming.
This past Sunday, Romney referred to Greene and Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., as "morons" for participating in a far-right conference put on by a white nationalist where people cheered Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"And I have to think that anybody that would sit down with white nationalists and speak at the conference was certainly missing a few IQ points," Romney added.
Last month, Romney condemned the Republican National Committee for voting to censure Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., for participating in a "Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse" on the bipartisan House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol riot.
"Shame falls on a party that would censure persons of conscience, who seek truth in the face of vitriol. Honor attaches to Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for seeking truth even when doing so comes at great personal cost," Romney said in a tweet.
Asked later how the the RNC's decision might impact the midterm election, Romney said "Anything that my party does that comes across as being stupid is not going to help us."
(Some politicians are) just trying to perform in a big way that gets them a lot of money on the internet and a lot of eyeballs and a lot of acclaim. They don't intend to legislate or to solve problems, just instead to make a big noise, and we saw that last night.
–Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah
In the press call Wednesday, Romney said there are a number of people in politics bent on performing as opposed to legislating.
"They're just trying to perform in a big way that gets them a lot of money on the internet and a lot of eyeballs and a lot of acclaim," he said. "They don't intend to legislate or to solve problems, just instead to make a big noise, and we saw that last night."
Romney said Congress has to vote on many measures that have no prospect of passing "but really fire up the base and make people feel like, quote, we're fighting for them, even though I don't know why it's considered fighting for someone if they do something that doesn't have any chance of actually getting passed."
Fighting for someone, he said, means Republicans and Democrats working on a law that actually improves people's lives.
"But I know that there are some people that just want to hear a loud voice and there are some politicians in my party and in the Democratic Party whose sole focus these days seems to be on performing and making a splash," he said.
Romney said the challenges facing the country, not just with China and Russia but with inflation, rising crime, and illegal immigration, merit people who are willing to solve issues rather than just talk about things that they know will never be passed.