SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Senator Mitt Romney was in Sandy speaking in a town hall before the Utah Aerospace and Defense Association about everything from the war in Ukraine, cybersecurity, and the Chinese balloon.
Watch the Romney town hall below
“We are still substantially ahead and have the capacity to continue to lead, but only if we recognize the challenge we face and up our game,” said Romney.
According to Aaron Starks, the Utah Aerospace and Defense Association’s president and CEO, defense makes up roughly 20% of Utah’s economy.
“You have the Space Dynamics lab at the top, 1200 jobs, $250 million dollars in contracts with the Department of Defense. You work your way down to Weber and Davis County and you’ve got the F-15, F-35 program,” said Starks.
Romney said that right now, China is the United States’ biggest competitor.
“They look at these things the way you would if you were running the country as a company. We have sat back and just said, ‘Well, the market will take care of everything,’” he said.
The senator also discussed Ukraine. Friday marks one year since Russia’s invasion. Romney said the U.S. must continue to send support.
“If we want to keep from being drawn into a war where we’re losing blood as well as treasure, we sure want to stop it where it is,” said Romney.
When asked about the Chinese balloon, Romney claimed Tik Tok is more successful at gathering information than a floating sphere.
“We’ve got to get smarter not just on the balloon, but other sources of spying,” he said.
Romney also said AI is an emerging threat that needs to be regulated but politicians don’t know how to do so.
“You’re expecting a bunch of 75 and 80-year-olds to regulate AI? I mean, really?” he said.
He said he had some “ideas” and could see the U.S. investing more in cybersecurity offense and defense in the future.