From inflation to Mar-a-Lago, China to civil war, Romney gives his take on issues facing the country

ST. GEORGE — Gas prices, inflation, “wokeness” and recent events involving former president Donald Trump were among the bevy of topics addressed by Sen. Mitt Romney on Tuesday while visiting St. George News and parent company Canyon Media.

Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney speaks with Canyon Media radio personality Carl Lamar on St. George Radio about issues of local and national interests while visiting St. George, Utah, Aug. 16, 2022 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St George News

Utah’s junior Republican senator was in southwest Utah as a part of a tour through the state that also saw him visit the leadership of Utah Tech University, the Washington County Water Conservancy District and other local officials.

Romney first sat down with Canyon Media radio host Carl Lamar for an on-the-air interview and spoke with St. George News soon after. Topics of local and regional interest, such as Utah Tech’s recent rebranding and the region’s continuing water woes were covered in a previous article.

What follows is the senator’s take on various issues unfolding on the national stage.

Inflation and gas prices

Inflation and higher gas prices and the factors connected to them were among the primary topics Romney spoke to while on the radio and with St. George News. As the costs of food and goods rise and whittle away Americans’ buying power, the senator said it has led to many people feeling the country is going down the wrong path.

“The reason they feel that is because of the inflation we’re experiencing. They’re seeing very high gas prices,” Romney said. “That’s making it very difficult for people to go to and from work and to be able to provide for their families, and at the same time, food is more expensive. This is what’s on people’s minds. And so they’re saying, ‘Hey, wait, this isn’t working.’”

In this file photo, a gas pump at the Sinclair station on Old Highway 91, Cedar City, Utah, June 23, 2022 | Photo by Alysha Lundgren, Cedar City News

Romney laid much of the blame at the feet of the Democrats and President Joseph Biden. It was their policies, particularly spending nearly $2 trillion via the American Rescue Plan, that Romney said pumped so much money into the economy that it triggered price increases across the board. It was a rescue Americans didn’t need and served to drive up prices on everyday goods, he said.

At the same time, the Biden Administration cut back on gas and oil leases, Romney added. This has resulted in a reduction in the overall oil supply.

“Funny thing, when you cut back on supply of something, the prices of it go up,” he said. “And so we’re spending more for oil and gas; we’re spending more for food. And they’re part of the problem. Now some things were out of their (Democrats’) control, which is the Russian invasion of Ukraine. That’s not something Joe Biden caused, but he caused some problems here. And he’s going to suffer at the polls as a result of it.”

Oil and gas leasing on public lands should be reinstated to help bolster the supply and bring prices down, Romney said.

As for combating inflation, Romney noted the Federal Reserve’s raising interest rates as an attempt to counter the problem. He called it “a very crude tool,” yet hoped it would succeed in the end and help avoid another recession.

This file photo shows an oil well in Wyoming. The Biden administration is raising royalty rates that companies must pay for oil and natural gas extracted from federal lands as it moves forward under court order with sales of public fossil fuel reserves in nine states, near Casper, Wyoming, Feb. 26, 2021 | AP Photo/Mead Gruver, St. George News

“Ultimately, I think our economy will re-balance and we’ll get Joe Biden out of the White House and we won’t have the problem anymore,” the senator said.

As for the recent passing of the Inflation Reduction Act, Romney said it was “a chuckle for most people because it has very little to do with reducing inflation and won’t actually reduce inflation, particularly in the first two years. It will probably add slightly to inflation.”

Watching China

The continuing emerging and power plays of China were also mentioned as the discussion with Romney progressed.

“Their intention is to become the most powerful nation on earth, economically, militarily, and in terms of geopolitics, to basically tell the rest of the world what they have to do,” he said.

“They’re on a trajectory that suggests that they’re going to get there. And we’re going to have to divert them from that course and make sure that we can work as friendly competitors, not as adversaries. We’re not there yet. But we’re waking up to the reality that they present a real threat to us and to freedom on a global basis.”

FBI at Mar-a-Lago

When asked for his thoughts on recent FBI actions at Mar-a-Lago, former President Donald Trump’s home in Florida, Romney said he felt the agency’s actions were appropriate given the circumstances. According to court unsealed court documents, Trump is said to have taken highly sensitive and top secret documents to his home of which he shouldn’t be in possession.

In this file photo, then President Donald Trump greets members of the five branches of the military by video conference on Christmas Day in the Oval Office of the White House. The military members were stationed in Guam, Qatar, Alaska, and two groups in Bahrain, Washington, D.C., Dec. 25, 2018 | AP Photo by Jacquelyn Martin, St. George News

“I believe it’s totally appropriate for the FBI to go in and get them,” Romney said. “We can’t have former presidents deciding to take boxes of classified information. It would put our nation in risk because those documents could be taken – they could be stolen. Somebody obviously blew a whistle and indicated they’d seen something that was inappropriate, and the FBI went out and got him.

“What happens from here, why that’s a matter that investigators will have to decide and prosecutors and so forth. I don’t know what was in the documents. But the (former) president pretty much admitted that he took things home and that’s probably not something you want to have former presidents do.”

Whatever the outcome, Romney has maintained in the past that he believes Trump should be held responsible for his actions. This has put Romney at odds with the majority of his party in the past as he was counted among the handful of Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for his alleged role in the Jan. 6, 2021 riot and alleged Russian collusion before that.

Romney’s first impeachment vote drew the ire of Washington County Republicans to the point the county party voted to censure him. A similar resolution was taken to the state Republican Party where it failed.

Thoughts on ‘wokeness’

Washington County Republicans have expressed a distaste for the concept of “wokeness,” which they say has been adopted by the Democrat Party, elements within public and higher education and the corporate world.

Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney speaks with Canyon Media radio personality Carl Lamar on St. George Radio about issues of local and national interests while visiting St. George, Utah, Aug. 16, 2022 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St George News

When asked for his opinion on the matter, Romney said he was “not a big woke guy” and that “this whole wokeness thing is kind of much ado about nothing.”

While there is nothing wrong with being mindful of someone’s sensitivities, companies and politicians have taken it too far and are punishing people based on woke ideology, he said.

“It just doesn’t make a lot of sense,” Romney said. “I think there’s actually a backlash that Democrats are facing as a result of the extreme wokeness.”

Some of the “super progressives” in the Democrat Party who believe they are gaining votes through the promotion of woke policy may see these efforts backfire, Romney said. He also said he believes traditional blocs of Democrat voters, such as Hispanic Americans and Black Americans, are beginning to reject woke-related agendas because they go too far.

“There are other places where you go, ‘Come on, guys, this is a little extreme. Give it a break,’” he said.

Civil war,’ division and hope for a great unifier

In the wake of the FBI’s actions at Mar-a-Lago, news media reported that the term “civil war” was being thrown across social media by angered Trump supporters. “Civil War” and similar terms have been making the rounds on the internet for some time before the recent incident involving Trump, and have been attributed to the increasing political and cultural divisiveness within the country.

Social media apps featured on a smart phone | File photo by Unsplash, St. George News

Romney said he saw the use of the term as a play on words similar to its use in the “war on drugs,” “war on cancer,” “war on poverty” and so on, and not necessarily a call to armed conflict.

“We’re not literally in the streets with machine guns shooting to somehow overcome poverty,” he said, adding the talk of civil war itself is likely being used as a way to describe the level of disagreement between people that sometimes regrettably results in violent acts.

“They’re not really suggesting we’re going to be lining up as they did in the 1860s. I certainly hope that’s not what people have in mind,” Romney said. “Because that wouldn’t last very long. It wouldn’t be very productive.”

Romney said he blames the division, in part, on the media people choose to consume and does not offer much in the way of alternative opinions.

“We are very divided. I think we’re divided because of the media we look at today,” he said, adding people choose to follow the news networks and social media that present and reinforce facts they agree with more than not.

In this Jan. 14, 1989, photo provided by the White House, President Ronald Reagan gives his final radio speech to the nation, from the Oval Office in Washington. Utah Sen. Mitt Romney called Reagan someone who had an ability to unite an otherwise divided people. | Associated Press photo by White House/Susan Biddle, St. George News

One person may choose to get facts from CNN while another may get them from Fox News, for example, and see the source they agree with as correct and true and refuse to consider another interpretation of the facts presented.

“And so we have people that don’t see the same set of facts,” Romney said. “They reach different conclusions, and they can get angry when they find other people that don’t think the same way they do. I think that’s unfortunate. I don’t know exactly how a democracy can work when people don’t have a common set of facts upon which to form their opinions.”

The division isn’t likely to go away anytime soon, the senator said.

Looking back on history, Romney said it has taken the appearance of a great leader who is “able to rise above it all and call for the common good” to unite an otherwise divided people. Among the individuals he mentioned who had this quality were George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt and more recently, Ronald Reagan.

“And I’m hoping we’ll see that, but we haven’t seen it yet. We need that kind of leadership in our country. And while we’re waiting for that to come from … leaders in Washington and then Capitol Hills across the country, hopefully, we’ll see that leaders in churches in homes and schools, you’ll see people calling on our better angels.”

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2022, all rights reserved.

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