President Joe Biden didn’t just have a bad week, he has had a bad year, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney said Sunday.
Last week, Biden failed to align Senate Democrats behind an effort to get rid of the filibuster to pave the way for election reform and voting rights legislation. Longtime Democratic political strategist James Carville called that a bad week for Biden but not a bad year on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday.
“No, no, as a matter of fact, he’s had a bad year. He’s had 52 weeks of bad weeks,” Romney told host Chuck Todd in response to a question about where the nation is right now.
Biden will mark one year in office on Thursday.
Romney, R-Utah, listed “Biden inflation,” higher gas prices, “a mess” at the southern border, lack of COVID-19 tests available amid the resurgent pandemic, the “disaster” in Afghanistan, and Russia threatening Ukraine among the areas in which the administration has dropped the ball.
“Things are not going well. And the president needs to stop and reset and say what is it he’s trying to accomplish? And if it’s to try and transform America, he is not going to unite us. Bringing us together means finding a way to work on a bipartisan basis,” he said.
Biden’s only success, Romney said, was the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
There are more than a handful of Senate Republicans willing to work with the president on issues, including family security, education, health care and immigration, he said. Biden has been in the Senate and knows how it takes bipartisan collaboration to get legislation passed, he said.
“But the idea of saying blow up bipartisanship and just let whosever got the slight majority to do whatever they want, that’s not the right way to get things done in America,” Romney said. “And it’s not the way to unite.”
Romney said he is willing to work with Democrats on elections reform but “I never got a call on that from the White House. There was no negotiation bringing Republicans and Democrats together to try and come up with something that would meet bipartisan interest.”
A dozen Republican and Democratic senators are working on the Electoral Count Act, the 1887 law that adds to procedures set out in the Constitution for the counting of electoral votes following a presidential election. A Democratic-led House committee has floated the idea of reforming the law that Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., told NPR “has ancient language that may not be as clear as we’d want.”
While Romney said it’s important to reform the Electoral Count Act, federalizing state-run elections as he says Democrats are trying to do with voting rights bills isn’t something the founders envisioned.
“They didn’t want an autocrat to be able to pull the lever in one place and change all the election laws. Instead, they spread that out over 50 states, I think in part to keep autocracy from finding its root here in this country,” he said.
Democrats are attempting a federal takeover of our elections, which were deliberately left up to the states to keep autocracy from taking hold in America. I'm working w/ a bipartisan group of colleagues on election reforms because any change to our voting laws must be bipartisan. pic.twitter.com/cCZGufnMHz— Senator Mitt Romney (@SenatorRomney) January 16, 2022
Romney said he favors laws that eliminate discrepancies in the ability to vote — such as longer lines for Black voters than other voters — but that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 already prohibits practices that discriminate based on ethnicity.
“But what I think we have to point out here is that a state like Georgia — which everybody’s talking about because the president went there — it’s easier to vote in Georgia, even under the new legislation, than it is to vote in Delaware, or to vote in New York, or to vote in New Jersey,” Romney said.
“And no one is saying that, ‘Oh, New York has discriminatory practices.’ New York’s practices are more stringent, more difficult to vote there than Georgia. So this is clearly a political play, to appeal to a base in the Democratic Party.”
Georgia is among many Republican-controlled states that have passed voting laws in response to former President Donald Trump’s claims of election fraud. Democrats argue those laws make it more difficult for people of color and poor people to vote.
Romney said he believes the House committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol is an important and legitimate effort. There’s no question that the committee is finding new information, and that that’s appropriate, he said.
“There was an effort to try and prevent the peaceful transfer of power. That’s unacceptable,” Romney said. “And we need to understand why there was not a rescue effort launched well before what finally came and they’re delving into that. I think it’s an important and legitimate effort.”
Todd also asked Romney about Russian aggression toward Ukraine.
Romney said he supports continued negotiation with Russia but that it is most important for the U.S. to talk to its allies and make sure that President Vladmir Putin understands an invasion of Ukraine would bring severe consequences.
The senator said the clearest thing to do is to make sure Russia doesn’t have the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which he previously said gives Putin more leverage than he already has over Ukraine, makes Western Europe more dependent on Russia and prevents the U.S. from maintaining a united front with its allies.
“We should let him know that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is not going to operate. He’s not going to have that wealth if he does any action to overthrow the government in Ukraine, that’s getting shut down,” Romney said. “I’d shut it down now, as a matter of fact, a huge error not to have done so already.”