Sen. Mitt Romney is one of many GOP senators who have said they will support ratifying the Electoral College vote on Wednesday

By Sean Neumann
January 06, 2021 01:01 PM
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Mitt Romney
Sen. Mitt Romney
| Credit: Stefani Reynolds/Getty

Sen. Mitt Romney was confronted and heckled by angry supporters of President Donald Trump while traveling on a flight from Salt Lake City to Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.

Cellphone video of the incidents, shared on social media, showed the Trump supporters calling Romney a “traitor” and asking why he doesn’t support the president’s baseless claims that the 2020 election was “rigged” and “stolen."

Romney was flying to the nation’s capital, where Congress is set to hold a joint session Wednesday to ratify the Electoral College vote. President-elect Joe Biden defeated Trump, 74, by a 306-232 electoral margin, with 81.2 million popular votes — the most ever received by a presidential candidate in American history.

Romney, a senator from Utah and former 2012 Republican presidential nominee, has long been at odds with Trump and has said he will vote to ratify the electoral vote certifying Biden, 78, as the next president.

Donald Trump, Mitt Romney
Donald Trump and Sen. Mitt Romney in November 2016
| Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Donald Trump, Mitt Romney
Utah Sen. Mitt Romney (left) and President Donald Trump in 2012
| Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

“Why aren’t you supporting President Trump?” asks a person filming Romney as he waits to board the flight, in a video shared across social media.

Romney, 73, remains calm during the tense interaction before walking away. In the clip, the senator asks the heckler to put on a mask out of precaution for COVID-19 and says, “I do support President Trump,” before further explaining, “I will follow the Constitution and I will explain all that when we meet in Congress this week.”

As the lawmaker walks away from the verbal altercation, hecklers tell him “your legacy is nothing” and “you’re a joke.” In another video shared across social media, a group of Trump supporters on the flight chant “Traitor! Traitor! Traitor!” and call on him to resign. The Washington Post reported that the chant lasted 20 seconds.

The senator’s office declined to comment on Tuesday’s incidents when reached by PEOPLE.

A small group of Trump loyalists in Congress are expected to object to the electoral vote on Wednesday, though many GOP senators and the Democratic-led House of Representatives say they’ll ratify the results and further cement Biden’s election.

Romney, a moderate Republican, is the only GOP senator who voted to impeach Trump last year and has often been on the receiving end of the president’s public outbursts. Their fraught public rivalry began in early 2016 when Romney called on Republican voters to back other candidates instead of Trump in that year’s election.

Last month, Romney said Trump’s push to overturn the 2020 election was “embarrassing” and also called his leadership amid the novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) “a great human tragedy.”

"The egregious ploy to reject electors may enhance the political ambition of some, but dangerously threatens our Democratic Republic," Romney said in a statement Sunday. "The congressional power to reject electors is reserved for the most extreme and unusual circumstances. These are far from it."

Romney added: "More Americans participated in this election than ever before, and they made their choice."