Romney blasts Trump lack of leadership during pandemic: 'It's a great human tragedy'

Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt Romney'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate The Hill's Morning Report - Biden asks Congress to expand largest relief response in U.S. history McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time MORE (R-Utah) on Thursday night issued a scathing condemnation of President TrumpDonald TrumpCIA chief threatened to resign over push to install Trump loyalist as deputy: report Azar in departure letter says Capitol riot threatens to 'tarnish' administration's accomplishments Justice Dept. argues Trump should get immunity from rape accuser's lawsuit MORE’s leadership during the coronavirus pandemic, calling the president's rhetoric a “great human tragedy.”

Romney, one of Trump’s most prominent Republican critics, was asked by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer where Trump’s leadership is as he continues to push unfounded conspiracy theories about the election as the coronavirus surges across the nation.

"Well, this hasn't been the focus of his rhetoric, apparently, and I think it's a great human tragedy, without question," Romney said.


The senator added that the “extraordinary loss of life is heartbreaking — and in some respects unnecessary.”

“Not all respects, but we've relaxed our standards as individuals," he continued. “Some states haven't had mask mandates. And from Washington we have not had a constant, consistent plan and plea for people to wear masks, to social-distance, to take all the measures that would reduce the spread of this disease."


Romney’s remarks come after the United States officially recorded more than 14 million coronavirus cases as of Thursday — a sign that the virus is spreading at an alarming rate ahead of winter travel and holiday gatherings. 

The president has been largely silent when it comes to acknowledging the severity of the health crisis, making little use of his White House platform to warn the public about safety precautions. 

Instead, he is continuing his efforts to undermine the election following his loss to President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenAzar in departure letter says Capitol riot threatens to 'tarnish' administration's accomplishments House Democrats introduce measures to oppose Trump's bomb sale to Saudis On The Money: Retail sales drop in latest sign of weakening economy | Fast-food workers strike for minimum wage | US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits MORE. Many of his public statements — including a 46-minute video he posted to Facebook on Wednesday — focus on election conspiracy theories.

Biden has already announced plans to call on Americans to wear masks for his first 100 days in office, saying the move could help reduce infection rates.

Romney told Blitzer that it is unfortunate that public health recommendations like mask-wearing have become “political.”


"This is public health, and unfortunately we have not made that message clear enough to the American people, and people are dying because of it,” the senator said.

Blitzer asked if some Republican governors are costing American lives by not implementing more health measures, specifically citing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) refusing to enact a mask mandate or close nonessential businesses.

"Well, no question, unless you take this very, very seriously and communicate that this is not a political matter, this is not a matter of liberty, this is a matter of safety and public health," Romney responded. "And we have people who are very, very sick, many people in the hospital. We have people who have died and are dying. It’s unacceptable."

“We needed to have a far clearer message from the very beginning,” he added.