Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney delivered a 2,144-word speech on Thursday at the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics, digging his fingers into the eyes of his party’s presumptive presidential candidate, Donald Trump.
In the speech, Romney criticized Trump for refusing to release his tax returns, while poking fun of the man’s failed business deals and urging his fellow Republicans to vote for anyone but Trump in the remaining primary battles.
“Here's what I know,” Romney told an audience that repeatedly cheered as he whacked away at “The Donald.” “Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. 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 is believed to be a Hail Mary-like effort by the mainstream arm of the Republican party to squash Donald Trump’s freight train of a campaign, which on Super Tuesday picked up seven of the 11 states up for grabs.
Political pundits say it will be difficult for any of the other Republican candidates to monkey wrench Trump’s momentum.
Romney’s speech was an echo chamber of sorts, in which he aired a long list of concerns that he has with Trump that in many ways mirror the worries that more progressive Americans have with the TV reality star and casino magnate.
Romney said Trump’s caustic statements about Muslims inflame America’s enemies, and that his bravado about his sexual exploits and his curse-word-laden language sets a bad example for children.
“Think of Donald Trump’s personal qualities, the bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third grade theatrics,” Romney said. “We have long referred to him as ‘The Donald.’ He is the only person in America to whom we have added an article before his name. It wasn’t because he had attributes we admired.”
But Romney’s critiques of Trump’s business sense are what provoked some pundits to recall the former Massachusetts governor’s own 2012 presidential run, which many believe was sunk, in part, by his cost-cutting, debt-riddled and sometimes bankruptcy-inducing business dealings at the private equity firm, Bain Capital.
The two businessmen’s last high-profile encounter came during the 2012 presidential race, when Romney courted, and received, an endorsement from Trump.
In response to Romney’s speech, Trump said that four short years ago, Romney “begged” for his endorsement.
"I could've told him, 'Mitt, drop to your knees.' He would've dropped," Trump continued.