Four years ago, Mitt Romney formally welcomed Donald Trump into the Republican Party. The presumptive GOP nominee traveled to Las Vegas to accept the billionaire “birther” theorist’s endorsement, in an apparent effort to capture a larger slice of the “Obama is a Kenyan Muslim” vote. But on Thursday, Romney did everything in his power to evict the Donald from the GOP tent, going so far as to suggest that Trump should be denied the nomination, even if he enters the convention with a plurality of delegates.
“Now, I know some people want this race to be over. They look at history and say that a trend like Mr. Trump’s isn’t going to be stopped,” the former nominee said in his jeremiad at the Hinckley Institute of Politics Forum. “But the rules of political history have pretty much all been shredded during this campaign. If the other candidates can find some common ground, I believe we can nominate a person who can win the general election and who will represent the values and policies of conservatism. Given the current delegate selection process, that means that I’d vote for Marco Rubio in Florida, for John Kasich in Ohio, and for Ted Cruz or whichever of the other two contenders that has the best chance of beating Mr. Trump in a given state.”
Romney’s proposed strategy is a recipe for denying Trump a majority of delegates, but would likely leave him with more delegates than any other single candidate. Thus, the former Massachusetts governor appeared to be establishing a rationale for his party to defy the will of Trump’s voters this summer.
Romney argued that Trump’s economic policies, to the extent that he has any, would explode the national debt and put the country into prolonged recession. On foreign policy, Romney characterized Trump as a morally idiotic amateur who would make the world less safe. (Wits on Twitter noted that that sounded a lot like George W. Bush’s record.)
What’s more, Romney criticized Trump for promising he wouldn’t cut Social Security, a line of attack that’s unlikely to appeal to any Republicans who don’t have summerhouses.
Romney was on firmer ground when attacking Trump as a failed businessman whose greatest achievement was inheriting his father’s money.
“But wait, you say, isn’t he a huge business success that knows what he’s talking about? No, he isn’t,” Romney said. “He inherited his business, he didn’t create it. And whatever happened to Trump Airlines? How about Trump University? And then there’s Trump magazine and Trump Vodka and Trump Steaks, and Trump Mortgage? A business genius he is not.”
“Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University,” Romney concluded. “He’s playing the American people for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House, and all we get is this lousy hat.”
Several liberal pundits hailed Romney’s remarks.
Which probably means they won’t hurt Trump in the least.
But at least Romney was able to reach comedian Rob Delaney.