Mitt Romney says Biden is going down the same 'tragic' road as TRUMP by wanting to kill the filibuster and cast doubt on the 'reliability of elections' - and criticizes Dems who say it's racist
Republican Senator Mitt Romney tore into President Joe Biden and Democrats trying to pass federal voting rights legislation on Tuesday night, accusing them of undermining the 'reliability' of American elections in the process.
The 2012 presidential candidate declared Biden was taking the same 'tragic road' as his predecessor Donald Trump in undermining the democratic process in a searing speech on the Senate floor.
He also urged Democrats to think about 'what would it mean for them' to abolish the filibuster now and see themselves potentially losing Congress and the White House in the near future -- and chided them for decrying it as racist.
'I prepared some remarks to to give this evening, but I had the occasion to watch President Biden as he spoke in Georgia just a few minutes ago. And he said quite a number of things that simply weren't true,' Romney began.
Earlier that day the president traveled to Georgia where he visited the tomb of Martin Luther King, Jr. and delivered remarks on the importance of federalizing election protections.
Democrats' haste to pass election reform is in response to 19 Republican-led states passing voter security measures last year that critics say suppresses minority and low-income communities' right to vote.
Biden also said there was 'no option' but to abolish the filibuster in order for Democrats to pass the reforms with a simple Senate majority. It's unlikely to pass under existing rules that would require them to get 10 Republicans on board.
On Tuesday night Romney said Biden's speech was divisive, and lambasted him for comparing opponents of voting rights legislation and abolishing the filibuster to racist historical figures like George Wallace and Jefferson Davis.
'He also accused a number of my good and principled colleagues in the Senate of having sinister, even racist inclinations,' Romney said. 'So much for unifying the country and working across the aisle.'
'More troubling, however, he said that the goal of some Republicans is to, "Turn the will of the voters into a mere suggestion."
'And so President Biden goes down the same tragic road taken by President Trump casting doubt on the reliability of American elections.
'This is a sad, sad day. I expected more of President Biden, who came into office with the stated goal of bringing the country together.'
Romney also took aim at Biden's former boss Barack Obama, who defended the filibuster as a senator from Illinois but in the last two years has denounced it as a 'Jim Crow relic.'
'Let us be clear that those who claim the filibuster is racist know better. For President Obama to make this absurd charge after he himself made a vigorous and extensive defense of the filibuster just a few years ago, is both jarring and deeply disappointing,' Romney said.
He argued that the filibuster ensures legislation is not passed by the 'extreme wing' of either party by forcing bipartisan senators to compromise.
Romney said the 'minority empowerment' the filibuster ensures means policies enacted by the US government 'tack toward the center.'
'Consider how different the Senate would be without the filibuster: Whenever one party replaced the other as majority taxes spending parties would change. Safety net programs would change. National security policy could change,' the Utah Republican claimed.
He later added, 'I don't recall a single claim from Democrats that employing the filibuster hundreds of times over the last several years when they were in the minority was in any way racist.'
Democrats have accused the GOP of 'weaponizing' the filibuster by stalling Biden's agenda despite his control of the majority party in government.
But Republicans charge Democrats with flip-flopping on their previous pledge to preserve the filibuster at a time when they were the minority party.
In 2017, 61 bipartisan senators signed onto a letter to then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urging them to 'preserve' the filibuster in the name of bipartisanship.
But five years later, Schumer has set a goal for Democrats to pass voting rights legislation by Martin Luther King Day on January 17 -- putting them in a time crunch to either force a compromise or somehow do away with the long-held Senate tactic.
Virginia Senator Tim Kaine defended his caucus over the letter on Tuesday, claiming it was 'written before one of the largest efforts in the history of this country to disenfranchise voters.'
Romney dismissed the explanation as 'absurd.'
'The country is sharply divided right now. Despite the truth spoken by a number of good people in my party, most Republicans believe that Donald Trump -- they believe his lie that the 2020 election was fraudulent, stolen by Democrats. It's almost half the country,' Romney said on the Senate floor.
'Can you imagine the anger that would be ignited if they see Democrats alone rewrite, with no Republican involvement whatsoever, the voting laws of the country?'
He warned Democrats that multiple projections have shown Republicans on a path to victory in this year's midterm elections -- and urged them to think about what setting such a precedent would create if the GOP had the majority.
'If you want to see division and anger, the Democrats are heading down the right road,' Romney said.
'There’s also a reasonable chance Republicans will win both houses in Congress and that Donald Trump himself could once again be elected president in 2024. Have Democrats thought what would it mean for them? For the Democrat minority to have no power whatsoever?'