Romney says he wants to be part of change between black voters and GOP
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Monday said his party has “an embarrassingly small share of African American votes” and would like to change that, one day after he marched in a protest in Washington.
Romney said he is working with several Republican colleagues on legislation to “make some changes to the way we do our policing” in an effort to crack down on aberrant officers who violate civil rights or use excessive force against people of certain races.
But Romney said he didn’t march for the cause Sunday because of politics but because he felt it was his moral duty after watching what he called the “heinous murder” of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“I don’t know that I look at this matter from a political lens. My party obviously has an embarrassingly small share of African American votes. I certainly did in my election, and we have since,” he said. “I’d like to see that change.”
“But that isn’t what motivated me to stand up and speak. I saw a heinous murder carried out by a person with a badge,” he said.
Exit polls found Romney took 6 percent of the black vote when he ran against then-President Obama in 2012. President Trump won 8 percent of the black vote in his 2020 race against Democrat Hillary Clinton, according to exit polls.
Romney said Floyd’s death is “an outlier” and “an extreme case” and asserted that “the overwhelming majority of our law enforcement personnel are excellent men and women doing a job that is extraordinarily valuable and one that I esteem.”
Romney added that “when there’s a bad apple, it’s got to be pointed out and addressed.”
The Utah senator said he plans to introduce a Republican or bipartisan police reform bill and said he spoke earlier Monday with Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.), the only African American Republican senator, about potential ideas.
“I state the obvious, which is black lives matter. If there’s injustice, we want to correct that. If there’s prejudice, we want to change that. If there’s bias, we hope to give people a different perspective and we can provide a sense of equality among our people,” he said.
He noted that Democrats who unveiled a police reform bill earlier Monday did not reach out to any Republicans to discuss the legislation beforehand.
He said the lack of outreach indicates it “is designed to be a message piece.”
He said he hopes to put together what ultimately will be bipartisan legislation to reform policing that can pass the Senate.
He said any legislation “needs to have people on both sides of the aisle working together.”
Romney dismissed calls to defund police departments or abolish the police as “silly.”
“We’re not going to get rid of the police. That’s a silly idea. Would be nuts to think we’re going to reduced our commitment to the police,” he said.
“At the same time, finding ways to reduce any bias that may exist on the part of individual officers or to reduce systemic racism, those are high priorities and should be aggressively considered and pursued,” he said.
Romney said his decision to march Sunday was straightforward.
“My intent was simply to point out that I was upset, as were members of my family,” he said, noting that his son and grandchildren were also out marching with protesters.
“Our whole family is very animated about the bias and the prejudice which too often still exists in a country which is the land of the free and which was founded upon a principle that all men are created in the image of God and are equal under the law,” he said.
Romney said he hasn’t spoken with President Trump or with the family of George Floyd about the Black Lives Matter movement or the need for legislation.