Former Massachusetts governor and 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney had harsh words for Donald Trump this week. NBC News reports that on March 3rd, Mitt Romney offered a scathing indictment of Trump at the Hinckley Institute of Politics Forum in Salt Lake City, Utah. The New York Times posted a transcript of the speech, which pulled no punches.
"If we Republicans choose Donald Trump as our nominee, the prospects for a safe and prosperous future are greatly diminished," Romney argued. Romney began by slamming Trump's proposed economic policies, claiming that they would undermine trade and enlarge the national debt.
"Let me explain why I say that. First on the economy. If Donald Trump’s plans were ever implemented, the country would sink into prolonged recession. A few examples. His proposed 35 percent tariff-like penalties would instigate a trade war and that would raise prices for consumers, kill our export jobs and lead entrepreneurs and businesses of all stripes to flee America.Romney mocked Trump's statements about Muslims and the unrest in the Levant, criticizing Trump for his short-sightedness and recklessness.
His tax plan in combination with his refusal to reform entitlements and honestly address spending would balloon the deficit and the national debt. So even though Donald Trump has offered very few specific economic plans, what little he has said is enough to know that he would be very bad for American workers and for American families."
"Now let me turn to national security and the safety of our homes and loved ones. Mr. Trump’s bombast is already alarming the allies and fueling the enmity of our enemies. Insulting all Muslims will keep many of them from fully engaging with us in the urgent fight against ISIS, and for what purpose? Muslim terrorists would only have to lie about their religion to enter the country.
And then what he said about on “60 Minutes”. Did you hear this? It was about Syria and ISIS, and it has to go down as the most ridiculous and dangerous idea of the entire campaign season. Let ISIS take out Assad, he said, and then we can pick up the remnants.Romney was also quick to condemn Trump for his immaturity, bigotry, and vulgarity, referring to Trump's histrionics as "absurd third grade theatrics".
Now, think about that. Let the most dangerous terror organization the world has ever known take over an entire country? This recklessness is recklessness in the extreme. Now, Donald Trump tells us that he is very, very smart."
"Now, I’m far from the first to conclude that Donald Trump lacks the temperament to be president. After all, this is 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.
[...]The list of Trump's flaws was long. Romney lambasted Trump for his slim chances of defeating Hillary Clinton if nominated, his inconsistency on important issues, and his reluctance to release his tax documents for public scrutiny. The final blow was an attack on Trump's broken moral compass, as well as his unpresidential temperament and poor judgment.
Think of Donald Trump’s personal qualities. The bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third grade theatrics. You know, we have long referred to him as “The Donald.” He’s the only person in the entire country to whom we have added an article before his name, and it was not because he had attributes we admired."
"Mr. Trump is directing our anger for less than noble purposes. He creates scapegoats of Muslims and Mexican immigrants. He calls for the use of torture. He calls for killing the innocent children and family members of terrorists. He cheers assaults on protesters. He applauds the prospect of twisting the Constitution to limit First Amendment freedom of the press.
This is the very brand of anger that has led other nations into the abyss.
Here’s what I know. Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University ... His 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."
Trump responded with his usual bravado. During the Fox News GOP presidential debate in Detroit on March 3rd, Trump called Romney a "failed candidate". During a rally in Portland, Maine, Trump accused Romney of disloyalty and claimed that Romney once begged for his endorsement. "You can see how loyal he is. He was begging for my endorsement. I could have said, 'Mitt, drop to your knees.' He would have dropped to his knees," Trump said, according to CNN.
On one hand, I found Romney's hypocrisy grating. He criticized Trump for bigotry against Muslims and immigrants, but he himself has exhibited bigotry toward LGBTQ people. For example, during his 2012 presidential campaign, Romney repeatedly denounced same-sex marriage. He criticized Trump for his misogyny, but his own disregard for reproductive rights is hardly respectful toward women. He blasted Trump's stance on torture, but he himself expressed approval of "enhanced interrogation techniques" in the past. Romney was all too eager to decry Trump's sin while remaining oblivious to his own.
Romney also refused to acknowledge his party's role in setting the stage for a demagogue such as Trump. For years, members of the Republican party have expressed contempt for LGBTQ persons and immigrants, supported war and inhumane measures as part of the "War on Terror", and generally cultivated irrational anger and paranoia among their supporters. The GOP helped stir up anger, fear, and irrationality among voters, to which Trump is pandering now. Why won't Romney admit that his own party helped create this Frankenstein monster?
On the other hand, Romney is right. He accurately described Trump's flaws and rationally explained why Trump is unsuitable for the presidency. As much as I hate to admit it, Romney hit the bulls-eye.
The question is, will he sway Republican voters? I worry that voters who support Trump are listening to their anger and fear, not to reason.
To read additional commentary, visit the following links.
The Atlantic: Will Mitt Romney’s Anti-Trump Pitch Work?
Slate: If GOP leaders really want to stop Trump, they need to be willing to lose the election
The Guardian: 'Mitt, drop to your knees!': Trump's locker-room banter is simple homophobia