Sen. Mitt Romney says there were times in his life when he “strayed” from his faith and the values that his devout Latter-day Saint parents instilled in him, including for political expediency.
In a pre-taped interview with the Washington D.C. Temple in the background that aired Sunday on Fox News Sunday, the Utah Republican said he wasn’t always “100% accurate or 100% honest.”
“When I’ve done things for advantage of politics, and I look back at those things now with great regret, and so I say at this stage in my life, I’m not doing that anymore. I’m going to be straight and honest to the extent that I humanly can and I’m not going to worry about what the consequence might be for me politically or otherwise,” he said.
The first-term senator made similar comments about some of the decisions he has made in his career two years ago during a conference at Harvard University. He didn’t specify what those decisions were, but said “the fact that there are some things that were not consistent with my fundamental beliefs really grates at me.”
President Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, rededicated the Washington D.C. Temple on Sunday. It has been closed for renovation the past 41⁄2 years.
Romney and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, accompanied other elected leaders on a tour of the renovated temple during a public open house in April.
Fox News host Brett Baier noted that Romney has spoken numerous times throughout his political career about how much his faith means to him, including in a major speech about religion in 2007 during his first run for president.
“I learned from my parents and from my faith the values which have, if you will, guided my life. I’ve not always been entirely true to them. Sometimes I’ve strayed and come back, but I have been devoted to the principles taught by my faith and my family. That doesn’t guide your politics necessarily, but it does guide how you interact with other people,” Romney said.
Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, said that when he ran for office, he pointed out that voters don’t choose presidents or elected officials based on their religion.
“But nonetheless, we look at their religious foundation to understand whether they will share our values, believing in honesty, integrity, family, and those things that I think are central to my faith and to other faiths,” he said.
“I love the fact that America is a religious nation and that people have a conviction that there is something more important than just themselves and their own selfishness.”
Romney was a bishop — a lay leader who oversees a congregation — in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Boston area in the 1980s.
During the Fox interview, Baier showed a clip from an exchange Romney had with Chris Wallace just before he voted to remove former President Donald Trump from office in Trump’s first impeachment trial. Romney, the only Republican to vote to oust a president of his own party, mentioned the words to a church hymn “Do what is right; let the consequence follow.”
Romney said that phrase has been meaningful to him throughout his life.
“Don’t worry so much about what it means for your reelection or for your promotion or for how much money you’re going to get. Do what you believe is right, and that’s a reminder, I think, that is important for all of us,” he said.
Romney said he follows Twitter “pretty carefully” for news and to help him do his job but he doesn’t read the comments about himself.
“I wonder how people who read the comments actually make it day-to-day. I don’t know that I’ve ever read comments on Twitter,” he said. “But reading comments people have about things I might say — look, I recognize a lot of this is just bots coming from the Chinese and the Russians, others (are) coming from disaffected people. Others from, if you will, a person that’s living in the basement of their parents’ house. I really don’t need to worry about those folks.”
Baier asked Romney about where he sees threats to the nation’s social fabric and families that he talks about as being important to his faith.
Romney said the founders of his church and its leaders have long said the Constitution was inspired, and freedom of religion being central to that.
“And so, I think, at the same time we believe that having people recognize that one another are not just citizens, fellow citizens, but also fellow children of God, that we are in the same human family, helps bring the temperature down,” he said.
Noting Romney and his family have been through a lot of political races, Baier concluded the interview asking, “Are you still into this politics thing?”
“I would much rather spend time here (at the temple) than in the Capitol building, but politics is exciting and there’s great work to be done,” Romney said. “The country faces some enormous challenges, but good people of all faiths can come together and hopefully address those challenges to keep America the hope of the earth.”