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Romney warns Trump to be 'careful' with rhetoric as he pursues legal challenges

"When you say that the election was corrupt or stolen or rigged, that's unfortunately rhetoric that gets picked up by authoritarians around the world," the GOP senator said.
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WASHINGTON — Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, on Sunday warned President Donald Trump to be “careful” as he continues to challenge the results of the 2020 election and not to push America toward a “course in history which would be very, very unfortunate.”

“The people in the past, like myself, who lost elections have gone on in a way that said, ‘Look, I know the eyes of the world are on us. The eyes of our own people are on the institutions that we have. The eyes of history are on us,’” Romney said Sunday on “Meet the Press.”

“In a setting like this, we want to preserve something which is far more important than ourself or even our party — and that is preserve the cause of freedom and democracy here and around the world,” he said.

Romney, the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential nominee, said Trump is within his right to pursue every legal avenue available to him, but he said he believes that if those efforts don’t change the outcome, “he will accept the inevitable.”

“I think it's fine to pursue every legal avenue that one has. But I think one has to be careful in the choice of words. I think when you say that the election was corrupt or stolen or rigged, that's unfortunately rhetoric that gets picked up by authoritarians around the world,” Romney said.

"It also discourages confidence in our democratic process here at home," he said. "And with a battle going on right now between authoritarianism and freedom, why, I think it's very important that we not use language which can encourage a course in history which would be very, very unfortunate."

NBC News, along with other major news organizations, projected on Saturday that Joe Biden will win enough electoral votes to become the president-elect after clinching Pennsylvania. An unprecedented number of mail-in ballots sent during the coronavirus pandemic, along with tight margins in key states, helped draw the process out days past Election Day.

As of Sunday morning, Biden is projected to win at least 279 electoral votes, with the races in Alaska, Arizona, Georgia and North Carolina still uncalled by NBC News. Trump currently is projected to win 214 electoral votes.

But Trump has yet to concede the election while raising baseless conspiracy theories and falsely claiming Biden won because of illegal votes.

“I won the election, by a lot,” Trump tweeted Saturday morning.

In a statement issued Saturday after networks called the race for Biden, Trump’s campaign pointed to the fact that Biden “has not been certified as the winner of any states,” a process that typically takes weeks.

He went on to say that on Monday his campaign will “start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated.”

Romney said he believed the election — which left Trump voted out of office but could lead to Republicans holding on to their majority in the Senate — is a signal that Americans want a “change in leader, but we are not going to be turning a sharp left turn.”

"He worked in the Senate long enough to recognize that there are two parties," Romney said about the president-elect. "Things have to be done on a bipartisan basis. And the more extreme wing of his party is not going to take over policy in this country."

"He indicated he wants to work on a bipartisan basis," Romney said. "We're ready to do that."

Biden's deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, told "Meet the Press" the president-elect will quickly get to work on advancing an agenda she said Americans asked for by electing him.

"We saw the Biden-Harris ticket get the most votes of any presidential ticket in the history of presidential politics. People are hungry for change, they want to unify, they want to come together. That's how President-elect Biden is going to lead," she said.

"This is what the American people voted for. This is what they want to see," she said. "So, for Republican members of the Senate, they're going to feel that pressure, too. People want the country to move forward. They want to see President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris move forward on their agenda."