John McCain published a statement on his website Thursday backing up Mitt Romney’s concerns about the state of the GOP presidential race, i.e. about Trump:
“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.
“At a time when our world has never been more complex or more in danger, as we watch the threatening actions of a neo-imperial Russia, an assertive China, an expansionist Iran, an insane North Korean ruler, and terrorist movements that are metastasizing across the Middle East and Africa, I want Republican voters to pay close attention to what our party’s most respected and knowledgeable leaders and national security experts are saying about Mr. Trump, and to think long and hard about who they want to be our next Commander-in-Chief and leader of the free world.”
Romney made a specific comparison in his speech between Trump and McCain saying, “There is dark irony in his boasts of his sexual exploits during the Vietnam War while John McCain, whom he has mocked, was imprisoned and tortured.” So it seems Romney and McCain coordinated their anti-Trump statements ahead of time.
Both the 2008 GOP nominee and the 2012 GOP nominee are attacking the 2016 GOP front-runner for the nomination. If it wasn’t clear there is a fracturing of the party before, it should be clear now. The obvious questions that comes to mind is why didn’t Romney and McCain issue this challenge to Trump weeks ago? Wasn’t it clear after New Hampshire that Trump was not fading away?
Buzzfeed has a story on the development of Romney’s decision which says the final straw was Trump’s response to a question about the KKK on CNN over the weekend:
For Romney, the anti-Trump effort became more serious over the weekend, after he watched the candidate repeatedly refuse to disavow the endorsement of the Ku Klux Klan during a CNN interview. Romney, who has long idolized his father for championing civil rights as a Republican governor in the ‘60s, was viscerally revolted by Trump’s performance.
Two former Romney advisers said Trump’s CNN interview convinced him to speak out more forcefully against the frontrunner. They added, however, that he is under no illusion that his remarks will dissuade Trump’s supporters from voting for him.
I wrote yesterday that there seemed little chance Romney could have an impact on Trump’s support if the Pope suggesting he wasn’t a Christian was barely a blip. It sounds, based on the Buzzfeed’s story, as if Romney himself has no illusions in this regard. In fact it seems he hesitated to speak up for this very reason, knowing he would be called a “loser” by Trump and his supporters.
As Allahpundit suggested earlier today, Romney may not have much influence with Trump’s voters but he could have an impact on other major party figures who are wavering between following in the footsteps of Chris Christie or going the #NeverTrump route instead. It won’t stop Trump but it could slow his momentum.