Romney heckled in airport in another show of GOP divisions

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, departs after the Republican Conference held leadership elections, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Supporters of President Donald Trump heckled Republican U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah in an airport, illustrating divisions in the Republican Party between Trump loyalists and those ready to accept the results of the presidential election.

Romney has been considered Trump’s sharpest GOP critic and is among a group of senators who called for an end to an effort to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s win. Video of the airport confrontation posted online Tuesday night came as Trump backers around the U.S. traveled to Washington, D.C., for demonstrations as Congress meets to accept the Electoral College vote. It’s being contested by some GOP lawmakers, but the effort is all but certain to fail.

Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, has a deep well of popularity in Utah, but a significant slice of the conservative state’s electorate is angry with him for criticizing Trump, said Damon Cann, a political science professor at Utah State University.

The confrontation “shows how deeply divided we are, not only as a country but how deeply divided Republicans are,” Cann said. Going forward, “Republicans need to find out who the person is who can pull the party together.”

Video of a woman walking up to Romney as he worked on a computer in the Salt Lake City airport and later referring to him as a “disgusting shame” gained widespread attention online and was followed by another clip of people chanting “traitor” at him on the plane.

His counterpart, Sen. Mike Lee, is a staunch Trump supporter but called for civility after the video made the rounds.

Harassing your political opponents on a plane is not acceptable,” he said in a tweet.

Trump, however, referenced the incident as he took a dig at Romney during a rally Wednesday, saying, “I wonder if he enjoyed his flight in last night.”

Romney shrugged off the airport confrontation in comments to reporters Wednesday, calling it “the nature of politics, unfortunately.” He did not soften his own rhetoric on Trump, saying the president “disrespected the American voters, has dishonored the election system and has disgraced the office of the presidency.”

Romney won’t face another election for nearly four more years, but he’ll likely still feel political repercussions in the form of a primary challenger, Cann said.

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9 Comments

  • Joseph Smith January 7, 2021 at 9:42 am Reply

    I think the events of the last 48 hours have made this inevitable: it’s time for the Trump supporters to go back to NASCAR and World Wrestling. Take your signs and flags and cheer on Dale, Darrel, Ernie, Ricky and Kyle. Talk about who is better between the Hulk and Big John Stud. That’s more your speed.

    And maybe, while we are being change agents, radio stations like KVNU who are egging people (who think they are listening to news) on with “opinion radio” should start acting responsibly. It’s like giving cigarettes to a child – and we wouldn’t do that, right? Start playing a warning add before Hannity and Rush. Your average listener isn’t intelligent enough to know it’s content is fake and provided by scam artists.

  • Ttunac January 7, 2021 at 11:52 am Reply

    Yeah, censor the opinions that you don’t agree with. Where where you all year? The protesters were just doing what they were told to do:
    https://youtu.be/7yYplnEkbqU

  • Joseph Smith January 7, 2021 at 1:38 pm Reply

    Did I say anything about censorship? I did not. I am simply trying to help my less intellectual brothers and sisters recognize the difference of opinions and news. There is a difference. When someone can’t tell a conspiracy theory or “belief” from something rooted in fact with proof – that’s when bad things happen. People are getting scammed – it might not sound like it to you, but I actually have the President’s constituent’s best interest in mind.

    Where have I been all year? I never condone violence. On any side of the political landscape. It’s wrong either way, when there is violence. And just fine when it’s non-violent and law abiding.

    • Pyrrholyte January 11, 2021 at 11:50 am Reply

      A rose need not announce its beauty. An intelligent person would find a way to manifest their intellect without having to insult the intelligence of others.

  • Ttunac January 7, 2021 at 2:51 pm Reply

    “it’s time for the Trump supporters to go back to NASCAR and World Wrestling. Take your signs and flags and cheer on Dale, Darrel, Ernie, Ricky and Kyle. Talk about who is better between the Hulk and Big John Stud. That’s more your speed.”

    Mr. Smith, you seem to be implying that Trump supporters are deplorable racist illiterates.

  • Joseph Smith January 7, 2021 at 6:43 pm Reply

    I’m sure NASCAR and World Wrestling fans don’t appreciate you saying they are deplorable racist illiterates. I certainly didn’t say or imply such things. You’re incorrectly reading secret meaning into my comments. You shouldn’t. I’m being direct. Signs and flags are frequently flown at both events.

    I do, however, feel like Trump followers fit into four groups, if you’re wanting me to generalize:

    1. Wealthy white men. (the only group that benefits from the President’s agenda)
    2. Religious people. Republican’s, not just President Trump, get them on abortion (which I’m also not a fan of). Most religious people look very little into content and are easily swayed by one or two topics. A lot of people say they are like sheep. Very little critical thinking skills.
    3. NRA people. These guys are adorable because they get told their guns will be taken by Democrats and as a result they buy TONS of guns and vote straight ticket. When in reality Democrats have changed far less legislation when it comes to firearms than Republicans. But it’s an effective talking point. Just not really true.
    4. Dumb people. I’ll be direct with you – that’s what they are. They don’t really get the issues. They want someone to point the finger at to blame of their misgivings and failures and Trump tells them that it’s the Democrats. Ironically, the dumb are also usually the less fortunate and as a result the biggest benefactor of a democratic agenda.

  • Ttunac January 8, 2021 at 11:45 am Reply

    “I do, however, feel like Trump followers fit into four groups, if you’re wanting me to generalize:”

    No thank you. I think we’ve seen enough of your “generalizations”.

  • Joseph Smith January 9, 2021 at 8:59 am Reply

    Ttunac: I’m pretty sure we can award you with a 2/4 combo with a splash of 3, a small penis and a sexually frustrated wife. My condolences.

    • Ttunac January 11, 2021 at 12:53 am Reply

      That’s a very witty insult Mr. Smith. Did you get a little tingle of superiority when you typed it? It’s the little things that make your life seem big…

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