By Sam Dorman
Published August 21, 2019
“The likes of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un deserve a censure rather than flattery,” Romney said, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
Speaking to a conservative think tank in Utah, Romney described himself as a "renegade Republican" who was aligned with the "Republican conservative philosophy."
The 2012 Republican presidential candidate has become one of a handful of vocal dissidents within the Republican Party. “My slice of the Republican Party these days is about that big," Romney reportedly said with his hands close to each other.
Romney's comments likely referred to a tweet from earlier this month in which Trump praised North Korean dictator Kim's "beautiful vision for his country."
Trump has also come under fire for complimenting Putin, as well as for his apparent refusal to confront his Russian counterpart on issues like election meddling. The former Massachusetts governor also took aim at migrant family separations -- something Trump's critics have long decried -- arguing it wrote a "very dark chapter in our history."
Romney's comments came as the Republican National Committee, led by Romney's niece Ronna McDaniel, lent unequivocal support for the president before the 2020 presidential election.
In January, McDaniel joined the president in blasting her uncle after he published an op-ed lamenting Trump's lack of "character." Like his Monday remarks, Romney's op-ed backed Trump's conservative policies but indicated those formed "only a part of a presidency."
"With the nation so divided, resentful and angry, presidential leadership in qualities of character is indispensable. And it is in this province where the incumbent’s shortfall has been most glaring," Romney wrote in The Washington Post.
Although Romney has indicated he wouldn't endorse Trump in 2020, he previously predicted that the good economy would help the president win his bid for re-election. Despite intraparty divisions, Trump and the rest of his party so far have formed a united front against Democratic policies that they deem "socialist."
“I am aligned with the Republican conservative philosophy and believe that our Democratic friends are taking us in a very different direction, which would be most unfortunate to our future," he said.
Romney added that Democrats would create dangerous incentives if they followed through on their candidates' promise to offer illegal immigrants health care, asking “Can you imagine the kind of magnet that would provide for people to come into our country?”