Romney says he wants to bridge partisan divide, offers limited thoughts on Kavanaugh | ParkRecord.com

Romney says he wants to bridge partisan divide, offers limited thoughts on Kavanaugh

Mitt Romney addresses an audience in Summit County on Friday. The U.S. Senate candidate told the crowd the political divide is one of the biggest problems in Washington and that he would work with people from both parties.

Working to bridge the partisan divide in Washington would be a top priority for Mitt Romney if Utahns send him to the U.S. Senate, he said at a campaign event Friday in Summit County.

Partisanship, the Republican candidate said, is one of the biggest challenges facing Congress and stands in contrast to the politics in many states, including Utah, where elected officials in both parties work together.

Romney made the comments to an audience of a few dozen while appearing alongside three Statehouse candidates at the Powderwood condominium clubhouse. A former governor of Massachusetts who also led the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Romney is widely viewed as the favorite to replace the retiring Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch in the Senate. His opponent, Democrat Jenny Wilson, has political experience as a two-term member of the Salt Lake County Council.

Elaborating in an interview afterward, the former Republican presidential nominee said the partisan divide is not beyond repair. If elected, he said he would establish relationships with Senate Democrats and search for areas of compromise.

"I look forward to meeting people one on one in their offices if I get elected and ask them, 'What do you want to accomplish?'" he said. "I'm not talking just Republicans but Democrats also. 'What are you here for?' Some will be just there for the power of it and the vision of it, but if there are people who want to do some things, we might be able to find common ground."

Addressing the audience, he said the political rancor has reached a high point during the Senate confirmation proceedings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, but he did not offer extended thoughts on the controversial judge. Before the event Friday, he tweeted his support for an FBI investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh. The investigation was reopened last week following emotional Senate testimony from Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, one of his accusers.

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Romney during the interview briefly expounded on his views regarding the investigation.

"I think that may hopefully lower some of the temperature, the political temperature, in Washington," he said. "And I think it's important to the integrity of the Supreme Court to have people recognize just where Judge Kavanaugh stands."

In photos: Romney, candidates visit Park City

In his remarks to the audience, Romney touched on a range of issues, such as the need for immigration reform that prevents people from crossing the border illegally while making it easier for migrants to understand the process to become legal U.S. citizens. He also spoke about his belief in man-made climate change, linking the issue to the current scourge of wildfires in the West.

Romney said afterward that he supports increasing the amount of infrastructure available to prevent and fight wildfires. Satellite technology should be used to identify fires when they begin and determine whether they have the potential for calamity, he said, while more air and ground support must be readily available to battle blazes.

"The idea that we have to wait several days before we can start bringing in the heavy guns, so to speak, to fight fires, I think is unacceptable in the kind of setting we have," he said. "These fires this summer, here and also in California and other places, are hopefully a wake-up call."

As for the economy, Romney stressed the importance of decreasing the federal budget deficit, telling the audience that Republicans need to highlight the issue more than they recently have. According to an April report from the Congressional Budget Office, the GOP tax cuts passed in 2017 will increase the deficit by nearly $2 trillion between 2018 and 2028.

Meanwhile, Romney said in the interview that tariffs the Trump administration has levied against countries like China, Canada and Mexico could eventually slow the economy. His comments came before the U.S., Canada and Mexico on Monday announced a trade agreement that may replace NAFTA, an outcome that Trump has made a priority. The deal did not address the tariffs on steel and aluminum from Canada and Mexico.

Romney said long-term tariffs could particularly affect Utah, which exports more goods than it imports.

"We want more markets to sell our goods into not fewer markets," he said.

Statehouse candidates

Three candidates for the Utah Legislature representing Park City and Summit County also spoke to the audience during the event.

Rep. Logan Wilde, R-Croydon, who is running to retain his seat in House District 53, said he's focused on the affordable housing crisis in Utah. He wants the Legislature to address it in a way that doesn't inhibit the free market.

House District 54 Rep. Tim Quinn, R-Heber, said he's running for reelection to ensure Utah stays the course. The economy is booming with the aid of conservative tax policy that is better than what is in place in many other, poorer-performing states, he said.

Ronald Winterton, a Republican Duchesne County Commissioner running in state Senate District 26, said the Legislature should cede control over many issues, such as affordable housing, to local governments.