Romney slams Buttigieg: ‘He’s not ready for the responsibility he has’

Greg Nash; AP/Stefan Jeremiah

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Thursday said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is “not ready for the responsibility he has” and argued his Cabinet position would be better filled by someone else as Buttigieg comes under fire over the recent toxic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. 

“He’s not ready for the responsibility he has. He was a fine mayor, from what I understand, but the position he’s got really would be better served by a person who’s managed a large enterprise, a state, or something of the scale he’s now dealing with,” Romney said, responding to a question from The Huffington Post on “how Pete Buttigieg is doing.” 

After dealing with intense scrutiny over widespread air travel delays and Federal Aviation Administration troubles over the holidays, Buttigieg has now taken hits over the administration’s response to the Ohio derailment.

Last month, 38 Norfolk Southern train cars derailed in East Palestine, several of which were carrying the hazardous cancer-causing chemical vinyl chloride. Residents were temporarily evacuated over concerns of a potential explosion as chemicals burned at the site, and worries linger about the toxic substances left behind.  

The incident has sparked debate about federal regulations for rails carrying hazardous materials and how the government should respond to spills. 

Buttigieg visited East Palestine last week, but many on the right knocked the trip as coming too long after the Feb. 3 derailment. The Transportation Department said the secretary wanted to “go when it is appropriate and wouldn’t detract from the emergency response efforts.”

House Republicans on the Oversight and Reform Committee last week announced plans to launch a probe into Buttigieg’s response to the derailment. 

Former President Trump visited the area just ahead of Buttigieg and bashed the Biden administration’s response. The secretary, in turn, called out the Trump administration’s rollbacks of railway safety regulations.

“One thing he can do is express support for reversing the deregulation that happened on his watch. I heard him say he had nothing to do with it, even though it was in his administration,” Buttigieg said of Trump. 

Tags derailment East Palestine Mitt Romney Mitt Romney Ohio Pete Buttigieg Pete Buttigieg

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