the national interest

An Apology to Donald Trump From Mitt Romney

Photo: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

Earlier this year, I delivered a speech harshly criticizing Donald Trump. Since then, Mr. Trump won the presidential election and his advisers have suggested that, if I want to serve in his administration, I must publicly apologize for these remarks. What follows is my full apology.

My earlier remarks made a series of accusations toward the president-elect that I now realize were completely unfair. I stated, “His bankruptcies have crushed small businesses and the men and women who worked for them.” In fact, Trump was merely using the laws to his advantage. I claimed, “He inherited his business, he didn’t create it,” which I now understand to have been a cruel shortchanging of his rise from outer-borough real-estate heir to inner-borough real-estate mogul. I likewise renounce, for all time, any insinuations about the business acumen of future self-made entrepreneurs Ivanka, Eric, Donald Jr., Barron, and Tiffany Trump, all of whom will have earned their success.

I likewise impugned the president-elect’s business acumen by mocking the alleged failure of such enterprises as Trump Airlines, Trump University, Trump magazine, and Trump Steaks. The future president refuted my baseless accusations the next day. As a gesture of penitence for my error, I flew to this venue on Trump Airlines and dined last night on a Trump Steak, which are indeed the world’s greatest steaks.

In that speech, I slandered our president-elect as a habitual liar who falsely claimed to have opposed the Iraq War beforehand and to have seen thousands of Muslim-Americans in New Jersey celebrating the attack on the World Trade Center. I predicted that “despite [Trump’s] promise to do so, first made over a year ago, he will never ever release his tax returns.” I would like to revise this statement to predict that President-elect Trump will release his returns when his audit is complete, or that he is right not to do so, or if necessary, both.

Most unforgivably, I called the president-elect “an individual who mocked a disabled reporter, who attributed a reporter’s questions to her menstrual cycle, who mocked a brilliant rival who happened to be a woman due to her appearance, who bragged about his marital affairs, and who laces his public speeches with vulgarity.” And on the basis of these accusations, which I hallucinated, I concluded, Mr. Trump “has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president.”

In fact, his behavior after the election, including his encouragement of a lively public debate among his own advisers regarding my own fitness to serve and his wise decision to require this apology from me, alone refutes my accusation. A wise ruler would never appoint a former rival without first requiring him to endure a display of submissive humiliation. I now see the error of my ways, and I have come to appreciate the genius and leadership of our next president in allowing me to confess my errors in public. I recant every last word of that slanderous speech. If my horrible mistakes give him any pause as to my qualifications, I can only plead: At the time I said it, I was hopped up on milk.

An Apology to Donald Trump From Mitt Romney