I am not happy with the prospect of Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee. But if you are hoping for someone else to be the nominee, I think what happened Thursday morning hurts rather than helps.
Former Massachusetts Governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney delivered a major speech yesterday morning at the University of Utah attacking Donald Trump. Parts of Romney’s speech were conveniently leaked to major news organizations in advance.
Romney called the 2016 front-runner “a phony” and “a fraud.” He said Trump’s “promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University,” adding that he is “playing the American public for suckers.”
But Mitt was just getting warmed up. Here’s more:
[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.
I have said many times that Mitt Romney is a wonderful family man and a decent fellow. But in what world is this speech from a two-time loser a good idea?
From a practical standpoint, it makes it more difficult for Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio to make their case about why they are a better alternative than Donald Trump. What were the media talking about yesterday? Mitt Romney. Not Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio. If Mitt wanted to run for president, he should have thrown his hat into the ring!
More importantly, where was this aggressive and forceful Mitt Romney in 2012 when he was facing Barack Obama? Obama’s policies made it a lot harder to say that America is still a shining city on a hill.
By the way, the same Mitt Romney who attacked Trump as a flip-flopping fraud gladly accepted Trump’s endorsement in 2012 and sang his praises then. Romney has also pledged to support the Republican nominee this year. This is the kind of hypocrisy that makes people cynical about politics.
Romney was really good at tearing down conservatives like Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum in 2012. His speech yesterday exemplifies the worst aspects of the GOP establishment. It attacks conservative, populist candidates with zeal, but turns to Jell-O when confronting left-wing socialists.
Where has this Mitt Romney been the past three years? Why has he not been giving major speeches going after Obama or softening up Hillary Clinton? He attacked her yesterday for the first time that I can recall. Will he do it again?
I shouldn’t be surprised. The GOP establishment did this to Ronald Reagan, too. (And, no, I am not comparing Donald Trump to Ronald Reagan.) That faction of the party has little respect for the blue collar voters who were drawn to Reagan and Trump, and it has no clue as to why they are so upset today.
Mitt Romney left millions of Republican votes on the table in 2012. Cruz, Rubio and Trump have brought record numbers of Republicans into the primaries so far. I suspect that the only thing Mitt Romney accomplished yesterday was to harden the resolve of the working class voters who already support Donald Trump. In that sense, his speech was counterproductive.
Gary L. Bauer served in President Ronald Reagan’s administration for eight years, as Under Secretary of Education and as President Reagan’s Chief Domestic Policy Advisor.