CNN – Some Republicans have read former President Donald Trump’s comment last week that would act as a dictator only on “day one,” as just another Trumpian quip. But not Sen. Mitt Romney.
“His behavior suggests that this is a person who will impose his will if he can on the judicial system, on the legislative branch and on the entire nation,” Romney (R-Utah) told NBC’s Kristin Welker during an interview on “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
“When he called people to come to Washington, D.C., on January 6, that was not a random date. That was the date when peaceful transfer of power was to occur. He called that on purpose. No question he has authoritarian rulings and interests and notions which he will try and impose,” Romney said.
However, Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, said he doesn’t necessarily put much stake in the former president’s specific words, describing Trump as a “human gumball machine.”
“A thought or a notion comes in and it comes out of his mouth. There’s not a lot of filter that goes on. … He just says whatever. I don’t attach an enormous amount of impact to the particular words that come out,” Romney said.
Romney, who announced earlier this year that he will forgo a reelection bid in 2024, has become one of the few remaining Republicans in Congress willing to condemn Trump publicly. Many other Trump critics have systematically retired, as Romney plans to do, or be ousted from their seats by candidates backed by the former president and his MAGA base.
Romney was the only Senate Republican to break with his party in a vote to impeach Trump during his first trial in 2020, and has since become somewhat of an outsider in his caucus. On Sunday he joked that his endorsement in the 2024 presidential election would be equivalent to the “kiss of death” for that candidate, though he left the door open to throwing his support behind President Joe Biden down the road.
“The Joe I’d like to vote for is Joe Manchin,” Romney said — but he doesn’t expect the West Virginia Democratic senator, whose name has been thrown around as the possible lead on a bipartisan No Labels ticket, to get in the race.
“I wish he would,” Romney said.