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Romney: Mattis statement 'stunning and powerful'

Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyAdvocacy groups pushing Biden to cancel student debt for disabled 15 Senate Republicans pledge to oppose lifting earmark ban The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - All US adults now eligible for COVID vaccines MORE (R-Utah) on Thursday praised former Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisBiden's is not a leaky ship of state — not yet Rejoining the Iran nuclear deal would save lives of US troops, diplomats The soft but unmatched power of US foreign exchange programs MORE, who, on Wednesday, offered a blistering critique of President TrumpDonald TrumpHouse votes to condemn Chinese government over Hong Kong Former Vice President Walter Mondale dies at age 93 White House readies for Chauvin verdict MORE as a divisive leader.

"Gen. Mattis’s letter was stunning and powerful. Gen. Mattis is a man of extraordinary sacrifice. He's an American patriot. He's an individual whose judgment I respect, and I think the world of him," Romney told reporters.

"If I ever had to choose somebody to be in a foxhole with, it would be with a Gen. Mattis. What a wonderful, wonderful man," Romney added.

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Romney didn't talk directly about the content of Mattis's statement or say whether he agreed with the former Defense secretary, who, in a statement to The Atlantic, condemned Trump for his handling of the protests over George Floyd’s death after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck during an arrest, even after he went unconscious.

“I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled,” Mattis wrote.

Mattis said Trump is the first president in his lifetime “who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try.”

Trump's handling of nationwide protests sparked by Floyd's death has added new tension into his relationship with Senate Republicans. The president has floated sending the military into U.S. cities and urged governors to crack down on protesters.

GOP senators have urged him to tone down his rhetoric over concerns that it would only pour fuel into already raw racial tensions following Floyd's death.

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Some have also broken with him on whether he should invoke the Insurrection Act and over the White House's treatment of protesters on Monday night, when they were forcibly cleared from Lafayette Square shortly before Trump walked across the street.

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiTrump: GOP candidates need to embrace 'make America great' agenda if they want to win Republicans who backed Trump impeachment see fundraising boost Moderates' 0B infrastructure bill is a tough sell with Democrats MORE (R-Alaska), one of the caucus's most moderate members, told reporters on Thursday that she was "struggling" with if she could support Trump.

Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanGOP Rep. Steve Stivers plans to retire Kellyanne Conway joins Ohio Senate candidate's campaign OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate confirms Mallory to lead White House environment council | US emissions dropped 1.7 percent in 2019 | Interior further delays Trump rule that would make drillers pay less to feds MORE (R-Ohio) said that he thought Trump had done a "pretty good job on his prepared remarks" but "his tone and words kind of in between those more formal presentations ... have not united people."