Time changes everything and perhaps no more so than in a presidential election cycle. A one-time ally, former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney had some fighting words for Donald Trump, the 2016 GOP frontrunner.
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“Here is what I know: Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University,” said Romney. “He's playing the members of the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat.”
In a speech billed as the state of the GOP party in the 2016 presidential race, Romney laid out his case against Trump on Thursday at the University of Utah. In the national address, he said the prospects for security and prosperity will be diminished if the billionaire businessman becomes the Republican nominee.
“His [Trump’s] domestic policies would lead to recession. His foreign policies would make America and the world less safe. He has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president. And his personal qualities would mean that America would cease to be a shining city on a hill,” said Romney.
The former Utah Governor spared no expense roasting “the Donald” with fierce attacks aimed at both his private life and business failures.
“Think of Donald Trump's personal qualities, the bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third grade theatrics,” said Romney, adding: “His bankruptcies have crushed small businesses and the men and women who worked for them. He inherited his business, he didn't create it. And what ever 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.”
Flashback to February 2, 2012, as the Republican presidential nominee, Romney gladly accepted and praised Donald Trump’s support in a press conference at a Trump hotel in Las Vegas.
“Donald Trump has shown an extraordinary ability to understand how our economy works to create jobs for the American people,” Romney noted, concluding: ”I want to say thanks to Donald Trump, it means a great deal to me to have the endorsement.”
At the time, Trump also praised Romney’s candidacy saying it was a ‘real honor to endorse’ Mitt Romney adding, “Mitt is tough, he’s sharp, he’s smart.”
However, that’s a far cry from the tough rhetoric both Romney and Trump have exchanged in recent weeks.
While Romney took a firm stance against Trump in his speech on Thursday, he didn’t go as far as endorsing any other GOP candidate but did say Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Ohio Governor John Kasich would be far better choices.
At this point, it is unclear if Romney’s message will influence any Republican voters. However, a Bloomberg poll in November 2015, showed Romney with a 60% favorability rating among registered Republicans and Republican leaners compared to 26% of registered Republicans who find him unfavorable.
Romney isn’t the only Republican leader speaking out against “the Donald.” In an open letter published Wednesday night, 50 GOP security leaders united in opposition to Trump’s candidacy saying his “advocacy for aggressively waging trade wars is a recipe for economic disaster in a globally connected world” adding that Trump’s “embrace of the expansive use of torture is inexcusable.”
The Republican national security leaders, who served under former President George W. Bush, also criticized Trump for his “hateful, anti-Muslim rhetoric” which they say “endangers the safety and Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of American Muslims.”
These attacks come on the heels of the Fox News GOP debate Thursday evening and just 12 days before the next big primary contest which includes the states of Florida and Ohio.