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

Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyRepublicans, please save your party Mellman: How the Senate decided impeachment The Memo: Is Trump mounting a comeback — or finally fading? MORE (R-Utah) on Thursday night issued a scathing condemnation of President TrumpDonald TrumpHouse passes voting rights and elections reform bill DEA places agent seen outside Capitol during riot on leave Georgia Gov. Kemp says he'd 'absolutely' back Trump as 2024 nominee 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 BidenThe West needs a more collaborative approach to Taiwan Abbott's medical advisers were not all consulted before he lifted Texas mask mandate House approves George Floyd Justice in Policing Act 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.