Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) took a pass on condemning President Donald Trump for racism after the Sunday twitter tirade in which the president, clearly referencing four progressive Democratic House members who are all women of color, urged them to “go back” to other countries.
Three of the four ― Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts ― were born in the U.S. while the fourth ― Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota ― came to America as a child with her family from Somalia.
Amid an immediate and passionate barrage of criticism directed at Trump over his tweets ― even, in some rare cases, from Republicans ― Romney was asked his reaction by NBC Boston reporter Alison King.
If anyone expected the 2012 GOP presidential nominee ― who in the past has been willing to break with his party’s herd mentality and assail Trump ― to deliver a powerful condemnation of the president, they were sadly disappointed.
Instead, Romney’s first reaction was to suggest the president had a point:
“I certainly feel a number of these new members of Congress have views that are not consistent with my experience and not consistent with building a strong America,” he said, according to a tweet from King.
.@MittRomney on Trump calling for 4 congresswoman to go back to their countries of origin? “I certainly feel a number of these new members of Congress have views that are not consistent with my experience and not consistent with building a strong America.” More @NBC10Boston 5pm pic.twitter.com/3tZ4DtCuvW— Alison King NBC10 Boston (@AlisonNBCBoston) July 15, 2019
Romney did offer a slight verbal rap on the knuckles to Trump, according to another King tweet.
@MittRomney. “At the same time, I recognize that the Pres has a unique and noble calling to unite all Americans regardless of our creeds or race or place of our national origin and I think in that case, the Pres fell far short.” Were comments racist? Answer @NBC10Boston 5pm.— Alison King NBC10 Boston (@AlisonNBCBoston) July 15, 2019
King asked Romney point-blank if he thought the president was racist, which inspired the senator to high-tail it from the reporter without answering the question.
“That’s all I got, thanks,” he said.
on whether Trump tweet is racist. pic.twitter.com/b0A8E2QChh— Alison King NBC10 Boston (@AlisonNBCBoston) July 15, 2019
Reactions on Twitter included some wondering whether Romney is a vertebrate:
I don’t know how you were able to interview him standing up since he has no spine.— James Smith (@jymbo916) July 15, 2019
Interesting. Never seen a spine removal in realtime before. Thanks Alison!— His Dudeness (@ZJudkins) July 15, 2019
Wow, grow a backbone already. Hard to believe he wanted to be president when he doesn’t even have the spine to call out racism.— Kathy Tillman (@KathyPTillman) July 15, 2019
It’s called leadership @MittRomney.
One person suggested Romney speak out now, lest Trump start attacking others, such as Latter-day Saints, the religious group of which Romney is a member.
Mitt - Show some spine and independent thinking ... I am sure that you will have an opportunity to react and stand up to trump - it won’t be long before he includes Mormons in his list of non Americans— Kathy Hubert (@kathytexhubert) July 15, 2019
Another suggested it was folly to ask Romney any questions dealing with racism.
Why do we need the whitest man in history to comment on whether something was racist?— Jonathan M. Katz✍🏻 (@KatzOnEarth) July 15, 2019
Others simply relied on sarcasm.
A true profile in courage. Thanks, Mitt.— Thomas Sherrer (@_thomas_sherrer) July 15, 2019
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost.