Mitt Romney appeared to take a jab at President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus this week, saying that it was not a great moment for American leadership while avoiding mentioning the president by name.
Speaking at a virtual event put on by Georgetown University this week, the Utah senator called out the lack of proper leadership in response to the pandemic, per the Washington Post.
“The speed of our response looked slow compared to other people. That first phase will not stand out as a great moment in American leadership. We didn’t look real strong, and that’s kind of an understatement.”
While Romney stressed that he was “not blaming this administration” and noted that all federal coordination on the coronavirus has been subpar to him, he did appear to take direct aim at the president’s tendency to go against the advice and statements of White House experts.
“The key to leadership is recognizing you’re not the smartest guy in the room.”
Romney has been one of the president’s sharpest critics on the right, with his criticism of Trump dating back to the 2016 presidential campaign. President Trump hasn’t been afraid to respond in kind, including his response to Romney’s announcement in March that his test for coronavirus had come back negative.
Trump responded on Twitter, delivering a message that referred to the Utah senator as a “RINO” — an acronym that stands for Republican In Name Only.
“This is really great news! I am so happy I can barely speak. He may have been a terrible presidential candidate and an even worse U.S. Senator, but he is a RINO, and I like him a lot!”
Prior to the test, as Romney joined other senators in going into self-isolation after potential exposure to the coronavirus. When speaking to reporters about what had happened, Trump said that it was “too bad” Romney had to go into isolation in a manner that made it seem as though he was being sarcastic.
Earlier this year, Romney was the only member of the Republican Party to vote for Trump’s conviction at the conclusion of his impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate. While it did not prevent Trump from being acquitted of his charges, Romney was the only Republican senator to vote for the president’s conviction and made Trump the first president in American history to have a member of his own party vote to remove him from office.