SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney blasted Donald Trump in a blistering speech at the University of Utah on Thursday morning.
Romney was greeted by a standing ovation — but also a few boos, and shouts of “Go home!”
Alluding to Ronald Reagan’s famous 1964 speech, “A Time for Choosing,” Romney said that it was again a time for choosing — but that the Republican party had to choose someone other than Trump as its presidential nominee.
Trump’s 35 percent tariff on goods from China, he said, would launch a trade war. And his economic policies, Romney said, would hurt Americans. He cited a string of Trump’s business failures: “A business genius he is not.”
Better policies, he said, come from “Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich. One of these men should be the nominee.” But Romney did not say which he preferred, merely urging them to “find some common ground.”
He urged voters to select whichever particular candidate “has the best chance to beat Mr. Trump in any given state.”
Romney then attacked against Trump’s foreign policies, including his proposed restrictions on Muslim immigration, and comments about letting the Islamic State terror organization oust dictator Bashar Assad from Syria.
Trump, Romney said to laughter, is not very smart. (“Smarter than you!” a heckler shouted from the audience.)
Romney then brought up some of Trump’s controversial comments about women, and about “his boasts of his sexual exploits during the Vietnam War, while at the same time, John McCain, who he has mocked, was imprisoned and tortured.”
Trump, Romney said, had falsely claimed to have seen “thousands of Muslims” celebrating the 9/11 attacks in New Jersey. “Wrong. he saw no such thing. He imagined it.” (In fact, though there were not “thousands,” Trump had cited an actual news report citing several Muslims celebrating on a rooftop.)
Romney also blasted Hillary Clinton:
“For the last three decades, the Clintons have lived at the intersection of money and politics … They define crony capitalism. A person as dishonest and untrustworthy as Hillary Clinton must not become president,” he said, to sustained applause.
“Of course, a Trump nomination enables her victory,” he continued.
A heckler then shouted: “You’re desperate!” and was escorted out by security.
“This is the very brand of anger that has led other nations into the abyss.”
Then he said:
Here’s what I know: Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University.
He’s playing the American public for suckers. He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat.
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.
He concluded: “I’m convinced America has greatness ahead. And this is a time for choosing. God bless us to choose a nominee who will make that vision a reality.”
Jason Perry, Director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics said afterward: “A lot of people in Salt Lake City and Utah are urging [Romney] to get into the race.”