He never uses the phrase “Never Trump” here but read the transcript or watch below and tell me that’s not the takeaway. David Drucker is right when he says that the “Never Trump” cacophony on social media is really a moral case against Trump much more so than a case against specific policies. Romney touches on policy differences here but the bottom line is that Trump is unacceptable in toto, not because he thinks tariffs are a good idea or that some sort of partnership with Putin would work out swell.
Romney reportedly has no expectations that what he said will move any votes, but he felt he had to try. That’s further evidence that this is fundamentally a moral, not a political, speech.
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. In fact, when friends and allies have urged him in recent months to weigh in more often on various 2016 developments, he has responded, self-deprecatingly, that he is “old news,” and a “loser” — a politician who lacks Marco Rubio’s skills as a communicator and Ted Cruz’s passionate base of supporters. “No one wants to hear from me,” he told one friend.
But he also acknowledges that, as the former Republican nominee, he has the ability to drive media coverage with his commentary, and sources said he will be much more visible on TV in the coming days and weeks as he makes the case against Trump.
Things I got wrong in my prediction about the speech: He did call Trump a con artist but he didn’t dwell on details about Trump University. That feels like a missed opportunity to clue in some voters, although Rubio and Cruz are now hitting Trump U pretty consistently so it’s questionable whether Romney’s two cents would have added much. He also didn’t address the fact that he accepted Trump’s endorsement in 2012, which is a silly mistake. Fox News, Trump’s unofficial cable news mouthpiece outside the 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. hours, apparently ran video of their joint 2012 photo op twice within the first hour after Romney had finished speaking. He should have said something about how he too has been conned by Trump in the past and wants to warn others, but oh well. He’s going to be punished for the endorsement, rightly, whether he disavows it or not.
One thing I got right: I expected yesterday that Romney would quasi-endorse Rubio, Kasich, and even Cruz as preferable to Trump. He did. In fact, he went one step further:
Frankly, the only serious policy proposals that deal with the broad range of national challenges we confront, come today from Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich. One of these men should be our nominee.
I know that some people want the race to be over. They look at history and say a trend like Mr. Trump’s isn’t going to be stopped.
Perhaps. But the rules of political history have pretty much all been shredded during this campaign. If the other candidates can find common ground, I believe we can nominate a person who can win the general election and who will represent the values and policies of conservatism. Given the current delegate selection process, this means that I would vote for Marco Rubio in Florida, for John Kasich in Ohio, and for Ted Cruz or whichever one of the other two contenders has the best chance of beating Mr. Trump in a given state.
Republican unity against Trump, huh? The problem is that Kasich doesn’t seem to be part of the unity push on the right; if I had to bet, I’d bet he drops out and endorses Trump rather than Rubio if he loses in Ohio on March 15th. More importantly, though, what Romney’s advocating is the “keepaway” strategy where everyone stays in and collectively they try to horde delegates from Trump in the name of denying him a clear majority. That’s a recipe for a brokered convention, nothing more. Romney’s telling you here that he doesn’t think Rubio can win the nomination before the convention, which is quite an admission of how much ground has already been lost to Trump.
Chris Christie is giving a presser at 1 p.m. ET in New Jersey. Is that going to be on unrelated state government matters, as his last presser was a few days ago, or has Trump tasked him with attacking his “friend” Mitt as rebuttal? Trump doesn’t like to let shots at him linger in the air for long before firing back. It’ll be an amazing spectacle if Christie, who’s been blamed by righties for years for costing Romney by gladhanding Obama on the eve of the 2012 election, now has to take a dagger to Romney to serve the interests of Donald Trump. Stay tuned. Exit question via my pal Karl regarding Trump’s 2012 endorsement of Romney: If Trump’s such a genius and Romney’s such a lousy RINO, why’d he endorse a doomed loser like Mitt in the first place?
Update: Hold the phone. Looks like I sold Kasich short. His Twitter account just posted this:
— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) March 3, 2016