Former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, launched a frontal assault on Donald Trump this morning at the University of Utah, a development that seems likely to have very little effect on Trump’s drive to the GOP nomination, but does lend credence to the notion that the Republican Party is threatening to fracture apart.
The video of Romney’s remarks is above; he begins speaking at around the six-minute mark. It’s a comprehensive anti-Trump opus on issues foreign and domestic.
“His tax plan, in combination with his refusal to reform entitlements and honestly address spending, would balloon the deficit and the national debt,” Romney said.
“He says he admires Vladimir Putin. At the same time he’s called George W. Bush a liar. That is a twisted example of evil trumping good.”
Also: Mitt Romney, consummate business aristocrat, wants Trump voters to understand he gets their rage:
“I understand the anger Americans feel today. In the past, our presidents have channeled that anger and forged it into resolve — into endurance and high purpose … our anger was transformed into energy for good. Mr. Trump is directing our anger for less than noble purposes. He creates scapegoats of Muslims and Mexican immigrants. He calls for the use of torture. He calls for killing the innocent children and family members of terrorists. He cheers assaults on protesters. He applauds the prospect of twisting the Constitution to limit First Amendment freedom of the press. This is the very brand of anger that has led other nations into the abyss.”
“Donald Trump is a phony. A fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing members of the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House, and all we get is a lousy hat,” Romney said towards the end of his speech. “He has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president.”
I didn’t hear Romney explicitly said he would withhold support from Trump if he’s the nominee, but that last line comes pretty damn close.
Trump’s response practically wrote itself:
Looks like two-time failed candidate Mitt Romney is going to be telling Republicans how to get elected. Not a good messenger!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 3, 2016
I fully concur with this analysis from Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post:
Romney’s speech will set off lots and lots of head nodding among the people who concluded long ago that nominating Trump is a bad idea. But will it persuade anyone who is voting for Trump not to do so? I seriously doubt it. In fact, I think that more than anything, it will confirm for those people that Trump must really be a threat to the hated establishment if people like Romney are this panicked about the real estate mogul getting the nomination.
If Trump ever needed a testament to just how much the establishment is against him, this Romney speech is it. Romney feels like he needs to do it but the most likely outcome is the opposite of what he is going for: an emboldened Trump crusading against the sad losers of the Republican party past.
Romney sought Trump’s endorsement in 2012 and fawned over him in a speech memorialized on YouTube.