Former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney finally gave his big speech about the 2016 election, deciding to forego offering an endorsement and instead slamming Donald Trump. Willard called the current frontrunner a phony and a con-man and lots of other mean names.
It’s hard to dispute Romney’s basic assessment of Trump. But his outburst still managed to be galling for at least five different reasons.
1. Romney Helped Create Trump
Four years ago, Romney was pleased as punch to accept Trump’s endorsement. He stood on stage and called Trump a brilliant businessman who had “shown an extraordinary ability to understand how our economy works.”
Even back then, he knew that Trump offered him cred with the sort of voters (read: racists) who embraced birtherism. He also was happy to have Trump and his wife host a birthday party for his wife Ann, which doubled as a fundraiser. Romney happily deployed Trump as a key surrogate.
It’s hard to dispute Romney’s basic assessment of Trump. But his outburst still managed to be galling...
And he did all this as the GOP’s presidential nominee. In so doing, he helped legitimize the idea that Trump was not just a reality TV star, or a brand-obsessed mogul, but a politician. Romney thought he was using Trump. But he was getting used, too.
At the very least, Romney should have acknowledged in his speech the key role he played in creating the Trumpenstein monster he now so reviles.
2. Mitt’s Disdain Will Only Make Trump Stronger
The sad truth is that Mitt Romney is the epitome of the Republican Establishment, a robotic businessman who looks more comfortable handling a spread sheet than a baby. He’s the perfect foil for a charismatic lunatic like Trump. He’s already using Romney’s broadside as a way of riling up his supporters, who never wanted Romney to be the 2012 nominee in the first place.
By injecting himself into the race, Romney is merely reminding voters what a weak establishment candidate looks like (a “loser” in Trump’s chosen parlance) and, by extension, how crucial it is to nominate a bold anti-establishment candidate this time around.
3. Romney Used the Same Divisive Racist Crap in His Campaign
Ever since Nixon settled on his Southern Strategy back in 1968, Republicans have done everything in their power to exploit the resentment of white working class voters. From Reagan’s references to mythical welfare queens to George H.W. Bush’s use of the infamous Willie Horton ad against Michael Dukakis, racial incitement has been a staple of the GOP playbook.
This is why Mitt, during his run for the White House, spent weeks falsely accusing President Obama of dropping the work requirement from welfare. He ran ads carefully stocked with hard-working, frustrated-looking white people. The embedded message was simple: Obama was stealing money from hard-working Caucasians and giving it to his shiftless black pals.
4. Romney’s Timing And Tactical Approach Were Pathetic
The more guys like Romney attack Trump, the stronger he’ll get.
If Romney had wanted to stop Trump, why didn’t he give his big speech, say, before the Massachusetts primary? Or right after Trump refuse to disavow KKK Grand Wizard David Duke’s support? And why did he fail to offer a clear endorsement of one of Trump’s opponents? Instead, he urged Republicans to vote for various candidates, a plan that will, at best, result in a brokered GOP convention. Romney may actually be deluded enough to believe that he could wind up as the nominee at a brokered convention.
5. Romney Is Attempting to Subvert the Will of GOP Voters
Republicans like Romney simply don’t get it. They still believe that the GOP is a party run by the donor class, which favors economic policies (slashing taxes and regulations, essentially) that further enrich the wealthy. They’ve spent years inciting aggrieved, low-information citizens to vote against their economic interests by appealing to racial, cultural and religious anxieties.
Trumpism, for better or worse, has upended this model. He has galvanized voters by tapping into the anarchic fears and grievances that now lie at the heart of the modern Republican party. The more guys like Romney attack Trump, the stronger he’ll get.