Mitt Romney’s Last Stand

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Standing in front of hundreds of people at the University of Utah and thousands of people watching on TV and online, Mitt Romney laid down the strongest indictment of Donald Trump from a member of the Republican Party yet. Romney’s powerful speech denounced Trump in no uncertain terms, going further than any Republican has been willing to in this election cycle so far.

Although his attempt and attempts like it will likely fail–and some even argue that his speech could help Trump–Mitt Romney moved into uncharted territory for the party and its efforts to stop its front-runner. It’s now clear that Romney and many of his fellow more traditional Republicans won’t go down without a fight.

Romney described Trump using Trump’s own words–calling him a phony and a fraud–in an attempt to hurt his appeal as a straight-talking, anti-politician. Romney even threw in a couple sharp one-liners like, “His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University.” Despite a couple quick quips, Romney maintained his status as a well-respected and well-spoken conservative.

In his strongest criticism, Romney summed up what a Trump presidency would do to the country:

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.

You can watch Romney’s speech below and read his prepared remarks here.

LIVE from the Hinckley Institute of Politics at University of Utah.

Posted by Mitt Romney on Thursday, March 3, 2016

In many ways, the content of Romney’s criticism was predictable. He reflected the many complaints that Republicans and even Democrats have with Trump. While there have been multiple big pushes in the “Never Trump” movement, Romney marks a large and visible step forward: the party’s most recent nominee wrote a speech meant specifically to take down Trump.

Along with Romney is the National Review’s editorial board, who published a blistering editorial making the distinctly conservative case against Donald Trump. On the morning of Romney’s speech, several prominent Republican national security leaders also signed an open letter denouncing Trump and his foreign policy views.

The emerging ‘stop Trump’ faction of the Republican Party is starting to make its efforts much more public than before and Mitt Romney’s speech may be the start of a very significant split in the party. Romney’s attack is in many ways unprecedented. The New York Times even asked several historians if they could draw a parallel from past elections and most found it very difficult to identify a case in which a prominent politician went after a person in his or her own party. While it may not end up being all that effective in terms of its consequences for Trump’s support, it is clear that Romney’s speech marks a pretty significant move from the Republican Party to thwart its front-runner.

As this new faction comes together, so too does a new strategy to take down Trump. Republicans are calling for an all-out effort to prevent Trump from earning a majority of the delegates. Because party rules require an outright majority to win the nomination, members of the stop Trump coalition have started calling on people to vote for the most viable alternative in each state. In his speech, Mitt Romney made a similar case when he said, “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.”

As far-fetched as it may seem, it appears as if a contested convention is the only option for Trump’s opponents within the Republican Party. In the event that Trump does not have a majority of the delegates at the time of the convention, the delegates will participate in a second round of voting in which they are no longer bound to vote for a specific candidate. Some Republicans hope that if a contested convention occurs, elected Trump delegates could defect to support a more establishment-friendly candidate.

Not only did Romney advocate for such a strategy in his speech, he gave a hint, albeit a very subtle one, that he might be interested in coming in to save the party as a consensus candidate at the convention. He notes that this election has already broken from any sort of historical precedent and that a divided party in the primaries is preferable to one unified behind Trump.

Kevin Rizzo
Kevin Rizzo is the Crime in America Editor at Law Street Media. An Ohio Native, the George Washington University graduate is a founding member of the company. Contact Kevin at krizzo@LawStreetMedia.com.



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