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‘Retribution and anger’: Republican senator claims second Trump presidency would shred national fabric

By Jake Beardslee · December 10, 2023

In brief…

  • Compares Trump's reflexive comments to childhood gumball machines - automatic and unfiltered
  • Predicts more division instead of policymaking if Trump were re-elected
  • Says deep national division betrays America's unifying founding values
Senator Mitt Romney expressed concerns that a hypothetical second Trump term would empower authoritarian and divisive tendencies, compromising America’s founding vision of unity.  Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia

In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) compared former President Donald Trump’s recent “dictator” remark to the automatic, unfiltered output of “a human gumball machine.”

Romney was responding to a comment Trump made in a Fox News town hall last week. When pressed on whether he would act like a dictator if re-elected, Trump joked that he would do so “on day one” to address issues like border security.

While dismissing the specific diction of Trump’s comment, Romney expressed broader concern about the former president’s alleged authoritarian tendencies, particularly in his final months in office.

“I don’t attach an enormous amount of impact to the particular words that come out and try and evaluate each one of them,” said Romney. “I do think you can look at his record as president and particularly in the last months of his presidency and say, ‘This is a dangerous approach. It’s an authoritarian approach.’ That gives me far more concern.”

To illustrate his point, Romney recalled childhood gumball machines that would automatically dispense candy when fed a penny. He suggested Trump’s off-the-cuff remarks are similarly reflexive and unfiltered.

Based on Trump’s conduct at the end of his term, Romney predicts his hypothetical second term would empower fringe figures encouraging the former president’s retaliatory instincts. A repeat presidency would likely see more division and anger, rather than constructive policymaking.

“That’s not what America is based on,” said Romney. “America was based on the idea of In God We Trust and United We Stand, divided we fall. Divided nation is not the nation America is intended to be.”