Utah Sen. Mitt Romney went on Meet the Press Sunday to explain why he thinks border security measures should be included in a final agreement on aid for Ukraine and Israel — and he responded to Donald Trump’s recent comments on being a “dictator” only on the first day of his presidency.

During his interview with host Kristen Welker, Romney also weighed in on a Texas abortion case, Hunter Biden’s criminal charges, an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden and what he thinks a second Trump term would look like.

Romney compares Trump to a gumball machine

Welker asked Romney for his response to comments Trump made to Fox News host Sean Hannity about being a dictator only on his first day in office so he can “close the border” and “drill, drill, drill.”

Romney said Trump doesn’t have a “filter,” but he does worry Trump would be heavy-handed in a second term as president.

“Donald Trump is kind of a human gumball machine, which is a thought or emotion comes in and it comes out of his mouth,” he said.

“I don’t attach an enormous amount of impact to the particular words that come out and try and evaluate each one of them. I do think you can look at his record as president, and particularly in the last months of his presidency, and say, this is a dangerous approach. It’s an authoritarian approach. That gives me far more concern than him playing to the crowd as he did,” Romney said.

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Romney weighs in on what a Trump 2nd term could look like

Romney said he thinks Trump would try to impose his will on other branches of government during a second term in office, but said he doesn’t think Trump would refuse to leave the presidency after a second term in office, as former Wyoming congresswoman Liz Cheney has suggested.

“When he called people to come to Washington, D.C., on January 6, that was not a random date,” said Romney. “That was the date when a peaceful transfer of power was to occur.”

“There’s no question he has authoritarian rulings and interests and notions which he will try and impose. That’s dangerous for the country,” he said.

But when Welker asked whether he agrees with Cheney that Trump would “refuse to leave office if he’s reelected,” Romney said he disagreed with that assessment.

“I don’t think Donald Trump would want to stay in longer than four years,” he said. “And the reason I say that is because I think he’s running for retribution.”

“I don’t think he particularly likes being around the White House. I think he’d rather be back at Mar-a-Lago, or other properties of his, but he wants to show that he’s not a loser. He won. And he wants to go after the people who were tough on him, so I think he’ll be finished after four years and go back to other occupations,” Romney said.

Romney said he worried Trump would not have people of “judgement” around him in a second term like he did in his first term, and said the nation would likely be more divided.

“A campaign based on anger and hate may win at the ballot box temporarily, but it tears the country apart.”

Romney on Hunter Biden and impeachment

Welker asked Romney for his thoughts on Hunter Biden’s latest legal troubles. The president’s son was charged with nine tax related charges last week.

“If his name were anything other than Biden, he wouldn’t have been able to bilk millions of dollars from foreign entities,” said Romney.

“And not only did he take all this money from foreign entities trading on his father’s name, which is ugly and unsavory, he then didn’t pay taxes on it, according to the prosecutors,” he said.

Romney said Hunter Biden should be “severely punished” if prosecutors can prove he violated federal law.

But, he said, he doesn’t think House Republicans have shown that President Biden was involved in his son’s foreign business dealings, and would vote “no” against an impeachment inquiry if he were in the House.

“President Biden’s son Hunter is obviously a very unsavory person, and has had some extremely damaging personal foibles, including a drug habit and so forth,” said Romney. “That’s not President Biden. And we’re not going to impeach someone because of the sins of their kids.”

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On Ukraine and the border

The Senate has been trying to work out an agreement on providing aid to Israel and additional aid to Ukraine, and it’s been held up over disagreement on how to best shore up the southern border.

Romney said Democrats and Republicans are “holding a hard line.”

“We have gone from 1,000 to 2,000 illegal encounters at the border a day under the three prior presidents. ... Now we’re seeing 10,000 to 12,000 a day,” said Romney. “As (Democratic) Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman said, we’re basically seeing Pittsburgh show up at the border every month.”

Romney said at the current rate, the number of migrants crossing the border this year would be 4 million, or more than “the population of 24 of our states. So we want to solve that to secure the border.”

But Romney said he still thinks the country should support Ukraine in its fight against Russia.

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Will Romney endorse a 2024 GOP candidate?

Welker asked Romney why he hasn’t endorsed any of the Republican presidential candidates.

“Well, because if I endorsed someone, it would be the kiss of death,” he said, laughing. “Shall I endorse the person I like least right now?”  

He said he would like to see the field consolidate, but said he wouldn’t ask any of the candidates directly to drop out, saying he didn’t think it was his “role.”

Welker pressed him on whether he’d vote for Biden, and Romney said he doesn’t think Biden’s policies are good for America, and that he hopes another Democrat will be the nominee.

“The Joe I would like to vote for is Joe Manchin,” he said.

Utah will likely go for Trump, he said, so it’s “irrelevant” who he votes for. “I typically vote for Ann for that reason.”

“You have a setting where you have someone who’s too old, and someone else who’s a little too nutty,” he said.

But, he said, “bad policy we can overcome as a country, we have in the past. Bad character is something which is very difficult to overcome.”

On Texas abortion case

Welker asked Romney to comment on a Texas abortion case, involving a woman named Kate Cox, whose doctors say she needs to have an abortion 20 weeks into her pregnancy because of potential complications.

“I’m not going to stand in for the courts,” Romney responded. “They’re going to evaluate the evidence.”

Romney said he is “pro-life,” but “people like me, that are pro life also believe that when a woman’s life is in danger, the opportunity for an abortion should be apparent for her.”

In the aftermath of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, Romney said there are still parameters being worked out by legislatures and the courts on how abortion should be regulated.

What would George Romney make of today’s Republican Party?

Welker asked Romney what his father, George Romney, who was governor of Michigan and also ran for president, would make of today’s Republican Party.

“He would not understand it. He would not believe it. The party is very different than it was,” said Romney.

But, Romney said, the parties have changed over time and even since he ran in 2012.

“I think he’d be surprised to see how much it’s changed and I think the social and cultural division that you’re seeing today would be of concern to him,” he said. “But don’t forget when he was a governor, we had race riots, even in his home state of Michigan and Detroit. So, we’re wrestling with some of these divisive issues even today.”