Category: University News

Title: Sen. Mitt Romney Speaks on Democracy, Party Politics at Georgetown

The 2012 Republican nominee for president spoke extensively on democracy and tackled issues ranging from political polarization to the merits of a third party in a conversation moderated by Mo Elleithee (SFS’94), executive director of GU Politics.

Commenting on the state of democracy in the U.S. and around the world, Romney said that the changing nature of the media and the rise of social media has opened up a space for more radical voices to get attention online.

“You have people increasingly coming to Washington whose objective in staying in office is to make noise, not to make law, not to change things in a way that might be better for the country, but just to make a lot of noise and to show that they’re angry and fighting,” Romney said.

Romney commented on the race to the speakership of the House of Representatives after Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-California) was ousted in early October and no other representative has secured the necessary votes to win the speaker’s gavel. Romney said the impasse is hurting the United States’ reputation around the world and that either party could resolve the crisis if they were willing to exercise leadership and compromise.

The former Republican presidential hopeful also offered critiques of progressive politics but did not hold back on addressing the state of his own party, which he said he doesn’t recognize anymore.

“Our party is overwhelmingly dominated by Donald Trump,” Romney said. “On the matter of [his] character and the values he exudes and communicates to the people of America, he is badly off base and is doing great damage.”

Elleithee questioned Romney about the viability of a third party to challenge Republicans and Democrats for the White House, which Romney had discussed with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), according to an upcoming biography on the senator.

“A third party running a nominee for president is not going to accomplish anything other than throw the election as a spoiler to one or the other two major party candidates,” Romney said.

Romney has considered the possibility of a moderate third party endorsing and funding either the Democratic or Republican nominee for president, he said, potentially pulling both parties closer to the center of the political spectrum.

Asked for his thoughts on ranked choice voting and the Senate’s filibuster rule, Romney expressed hope for the novel voting method and defended the filibuster as a means to build more bipartisan consensus.

“If we lose the filibuster, we lose a major, critical element of our democracy,” Romney said. “You’ve got to protect the institution that has allowed us to keep from going from guardrail to guardrail.”

At the end of the discussion, Georgetown students asked the senator questions on the future of the Republican Party and what young people can do to get more involved with public service. In September, Romney announced that he would not seek reelection to the U.S. Senate after serving for one six-year term, saying that it was time for a “new generation of leaders” to take on the mantle of leadership.

“I’d be really angry if I were you guys, angry enough to be involved in politics, either to run or to support someone who’s running just to show your involvement in the political process,” said Romney, who then shared how the current generation of political leaders has ballooned the national debt without offering any solutions to solve the debt crisis that will pass down to younger generations.

Drew Peterson (B’25), a junior at Georgetown, attended the event and appreciated how the university gave him access to speakers like Romney.

“Mitt Romney is a stellar example of a long and successful career in both politics and business, having a high standing in both. It was great to hear him speak,” Peterson said. “I enjoyed his focus on the importance of not just being in politics to evoke attention or viewership … It was nice to hear a politician speak about, whether that’s true for Romney or not, doing work behind-the-scenes and not just working for attention.”

While Romney expressed concern about the state of American democracy, he left the evening with a message of hope for the young people gathered in Lohrfink Auditorium.

“Freedom allows people of independent thought to do extraordinary things that the world has never imagined would occur, and that’s what has allowed us to lead the world for such a long period of time,” Romney said. “I’m still betting on the United States of America and on the cause of freedom, but I’m betting on people like you, if you will, democratic entrepreneurs, to use that freedom to help keep America the hope of the earth.”

GU Politics is also hosting Republican presidential candidates in conjunction with the Associate Press for conversations on national security and foreign policy issues. In October, the institute hosted Sen. Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) and former Vice President Mike Pence.