The Utah Republican accepted the award and delivered his speech in a virtual forum, saying many members of the public have been let down by those “who’ve chosen the easy way, playing to the crowd, itching the ears of the resentful with conspiracies and accusations.”
He added: “I take heart in the fact that such displays are still newsworthy and are generally met with disdain.”
The Republican senator was presented with the award in recognition of him voting to convict former President Donald Trump in the 2020 Ukraine-related impeachment trial. Trump was acquitted by the GOP-led, but Romney became the first senator to vote in favor of conviction on an article of impeachment lodged against a member of his or her own party.
Romney also joined six other GOP senators in voting to convict Trump on a charge of incitement of insurrection in connection to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, but Trump was again acquitted.
Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts and failed 2012 GOP presidential candidate, said the challenges the country should unite around are those posed by the rise of China, the global climate change crisis, and the “degradation of the national balance sheet.”
“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 quipped against political talking points on both sides.
“That is not something I would’ve imagined. More likely to have found little green men on Mars,” Romney said. “It’s very humbling but a great honor and obviously which comes from a family that has sacrificed enormously over the years for our country.”
Former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy and honorary president of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, gave the award to Romney.
“Senator Romney ‘s commitment to our Constitution makes him a worthy successor to the senators who inspired my father to write Profiles in Courage. He reminds us that our Democracy depends on the courage, conscience and character of our elected officials,” she said in a statement preceding the ceremony.