The Cable

Romney: Trump’s ‘Imagination Must Not be Married to Real Power’ ’

Mitt Romney attacked Donald Trump on all fronts in an effort to prevent the billionaire businessman from winning the 2019 GOP presidential nomination.

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In a last-ditch effort to stop Donald Trump from winning the Republican Party’s 2016 presidential nomination, Mitt Romney said the billionaire businessman’s candidacy would all but guarantee Hillary Clinton’s win for the White House and called Trump’s national security views dangerous and inhumane.

“Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud,” Mr. Romney said Thursday in a speech at the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah. “His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat.”

Romney’s speech came after Trump won seven Super Tuesday primary contests earlier this week. These victories have solidified Trump as the clear Republican frontrunner — and sparked widespread panic within the party’s establishment.

The remarks by the two-time presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor represent the most overt effort by mainstream Republicans to derail the populist train Trump is riding to the nomination. Romney said Trump’s policies would lead to a “prolonged recession” He listed a string of Trump’s failed business ventures, including Trump Steaks, Trump Mortgage, and Trump University.

“A business genius he is not,” Romney, who made his fortune at the private equity investment firm Bain Capital, said.

Romney then blasted Trump’s foreign policy proposals, including Trump’s plan to allow the Islamic State to take out Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Romney called it “the most ridiculous and dangerous idea of the campaign season.”

Romney also disputed Trump’s claim that he had opposed the Iraq war. “He spoke in favor of invading Iraq.” Romney said. Then, on Trump’s assertion that Muslims in New Jersey celebrated 9/11: “He imagined it.” He called Trump a “con man” and a “phony.”

Romney, who had welcomed an endorsement from Trump in 2012, blasted the businessman for scapegoating Muslims and Mexican immigrants. He condemned Trump’s plan to kill the families of terrorists, which would be a war crime, and warned that an American military controlled by Trump would be dangerous to the U.S. and the broader world.

“His imagination must not be married to real power,” Romney said.

Romney, anticipating a likely line of attack from Trump, was careful to also criticize Clinton.

He said the former secretary of state and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have spent years “trading their political influence to enrich their personal finances. They embody the term, ‘crony capitalism.’”

“A person so untrustworthy and dishonest as Hillary Clinton must not become president,” Romney said.

While blasting Trump, Romney acknowledged the populist anger that’s fueling the real estate tycoon’s rise. But he warned channeling this rage into a Trump nomination puts the republic in danger.

“This is the very brand of anger that has led other nations into the abyss,” he said.

As excerpts of the speech leaked Thursday morning, Trump went on Twitter to preemptively strike back.

Trump also went on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Thursday to criticize Romney’s failed presidential runs.

“First of all, he’s a man, who as you know, begged me, and I mean begged me, for my endorsement four years ago,” Trump said. “OK, so that’s fine. He failed in his campaign, it was a horribly run campaign. Republicans didn’t even go out to vote. He was a disaster the last month, month and a half, he wasn’t on television, it was almost like he was lost, and he ran one of the worst campaigns, as you know, in presidential history. That was an election that should have been won by the Republicans. He was a catastrophe.”  

Romney said he expected that kind of  reaction. “Watch how he responds to my speech today. Will he talk about our policy differences or will he attack me with every imaginable low road insult? This may tell you what you need to know about his temperament, his stability, and his suitability to be president,” the former Massachusetts governor said.

He called on Republican to back either Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), or Ohio Gov. John Kasich. “One of these men should be our nominee,” Romney said, making clear that he wasn’t endorsing any one of them.

As he spoke, Romney was interrupted with chants of, “We want Mitt,” despite the fact that Romney has ruled out a presidential run. However, instead of dismissing the notion, Romney simply said, “Thank you.”

Photo Credit: George Frey/Getty Images

David Francis was a senior reporter for Foreign Policy, where he covered international finance. @davidcfrancis

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