In a highly anticipated speech at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Thursday morning, 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney presented a detailed argument against Donald Trump’s candidacy, citing numerous personal and political flaws.
Almost pleading with the American public not to grant the power of the presidency to a “phony” and a “fraud”, Romney insinuated that “if we Republicans choose Donald Trump as our nominee, the prospects for a safe and prosperous future are greatly diminished.”
The list of policy issues Romney has with the New York billionaire are exhausting: Trump’s proposals on trade, taxes, healthcare, national security, immigration, foreign policy and libel law reform, are all wrong-headed according to the former Massachusetts governor.
For example, Romney suggested that Trump’s 35 percent import tax would start a “trade war” with U.S. trading partners, which would in turn raise prices for U.S. consumers and wipe out domestic export businesses.
After citing what he characterized as a disastrous agenda, Romney shifted his criticism to the real-estate developer’s oft-questioned character. Accusing him of lacking “the temperament to be president,” he cited the example of Trump’s attack on Arizona Senator John McCain.
“There is a dark irony in his boasts of his sexual exploits during the Vietnam War while John McCain, whom he has mocked, was imprisoned and tortured,” Romney charged. “Dishonesty is Trump’s hallmark . . . His is not the temperament of a stable, thoughtful leader.”
Romney also cited Trump’s unwillingness to release his tax returns and the audio recording of his interview with the New York Times editorial board as evidence that he “is a con man, a fake”.
“I predict that there are more bombshells in his tax returns,” Romney continued. “I predict that he doesn’t give much if anything to the disabled and to our veterans. I predict that he told the New York Times that his immigration talk is just that — talk . . . he will never release his tax returns . . . He has too much to hide.”
While acknowledging that the American people are “angry”, Romney concluded with the following: “Mr. Trump is directing our anger for less than noble purposes . . . His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing the American public for suckers.”
At least two prominent Republicans backed Romney’s comments immediately following the speech, namely Sen. McCain and Gov. John Kasich.
In a statement released by the Senator’s office, McCain said: “I share the concerns about Donald Trump that my friend and former Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, described in his speech today. I would also echo the many concerns about Mr. Trump’s uninformed and indeed dangerous statements on national security issues that have been raised by 65 Republican defense and foreign policy leaders.”
Likewise, Kasich told reporters in Detroit after Romney’s speech that, “I think it’s important that we stop Mr. Trump.”
At approximately 2 p.m. EST, Trump delivered a campaign speech in Portland, Maine, rebuking some of Romney’s criticisms.
While much of his counter-argument sounded disorganized and often wandered off-topic, Trump’s response in the main centered around his ideas for a revamped U.S. trade policy.
Reiterating a commitment to imposing a 35 percent tax on expatriated imports, the leader in the GOP presidential race cited a U.S. trade deficit with China which totals $500 billion and a deficit with Mexico of $58 billion. Trump even went as far as claim he could use the deficit with Mexico as leverage to get them to pay for “the wall” along the U.S. southern border.
“If we keep free trade, we’re not going to have any companies left at all,” Trump said.