Accepting award, Romney faults extremes of political divide

BOSTON (AP) — U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney faulted those on both extremes of the nation’s political divide Wednesday as he accepted the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.

Romney was presented with the award in recognition of his decision to become the only Republican to split with his party and vote to convict former President Donald Trump during his first impeachment trial.

“Many of us have been disappointed of late by the actions of some people who’ve chosen the easy way, playing to the crowd, itching the ears of the resentful with conspiracies and accusations,” the Utah Republican said Wednesday. “I take heart in the fact that such displays are still newsworthy and are generally met with disdain.”

The domestic political squabbles are having a real impact, Romney said, by diverting the nation’s attention away from three great challenges facing the country: the rise of China, global climate change and the “degradation of the national balance sheet.”

Romney said there’s plenty of blame to go around.

“Some of us on the right infect the nation with claims of election fraud, tech and media outrages, even vaccine fantasies. From the left come hyperwoke accusations and antipathy toward free enterprise, the very means of our prosperity,” the Utah Republican added.

Romney was given the award by Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of President Kennedy and the honorary president of the foundation, during a virtual ceremony.

Trump’s first impeachment trial in 2020 focused on his relationship with Ukraine.

Romney became the first senator in U.S. history to vote to convict a president who belonged to their party. The former Massachusetts governor came under intense criticism and even received threats from some supporters of the former president.

After the Jan. 6 insurrection by Trump’s supporters at the U.S. Capitol, Romney called on fellow Republican senators to acknowledge that Trump had lost the election.

At Trump’s second impeachment trial, Romney was one of seven Republican senators who voted to convict the former president of inciting the attack.

Romney, 74, has a long history with the Kennedy family.

In 1994, Romney challenged U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy for his seat and lost. Later, as governor, he worked with Kennedy to pass a landmark bill in Massachusetts that expanded access to health care.

President Kennedy’s book, “Profiles in Courage,” recounts the stories of eight U.S. senators who risked their careers by taking principled stands for unpopular positions. The award was created by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation in 1989.

Previous winners have included Presidents Barack Obama, Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush.

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