Real estate mogul and conservative provocateur Donald Trump has a concise, clear message for 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney: You “blew it” in the last election, so don’t even try to run for president again.
“No. I don’t think he should run. He had his chance and he blew it,” Trump told Breitbart News during a phone interview on Tuesday. “He had a great chance of winning. He should have won. That was an election that frankly should have been a much easier election than the probable 2016 candidate Hillary. That was an election that should have been won by the Republicans.”
“Whether it was his consultants, I read all different concepts. I’ve read all different views on what happened. But whether it was him or his consultants, he blew it,” he continued. “He had a tremendous advantage against a president who had done very poorly and now has done worse, and that was really a race that was easier than beating Hillary.”
Trump said he carried that message–that Romney shouldn’t run again–to Iowa last weekend when he campaigned for and raised funds for Iowa’s Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and his re-election campaign.
“They did close to $100,000 and I’m really happy about that,” Trump said of the King fundraiser. “Steve King is a terrific guy. I got to know Steve when I was in New Hampshire and making a speech. He was there and I love him. He and I just hit it off. He’s someone I respect. He and I have similar views on many different subjects. He’s somebody who really loves the country.”
“He asked me whether or not it would be possible if I could go out there sometime and I said ‘yeah, let me know’ and we got together and we went out there last Saturday and it was really an amazing–I’ve been to Iowa many times. I really like Iowa and I really like the people of Iowa,” he said. “We had just a great successful day. We did a press conference, and we then went to a house of a guy who did a fundraiser for Steve and it was very successful.”
At the press conference and in meetings with donors throughout Iowa, Trump said he’s made it clear: Romney shouldn’t run in 2016 because Hillary Clinton will be tougher to beat than Obama.
“It was a race that should have been won,” Trump said. “People ask me about Gov. Romney, and at the press conference too. I said this is a race that should have been won and somehow he lost in the final four weeks. That’s not a good thing. What happened was a very bad situation. I was not and many Republicans were not happy with that final four week performance. That was a race that should have been won. Nothing against him personally, but that was a race that should have been won.”
While Romney has said he won’t run, he’s been pushed by some in the establishment to consider another run–which would be his third White House bid since Romney ran and failed in the primary in 2008. Romney has said, however, that “circumstances can change”–something he’ll likely fall back on should he decide to throw his hat in the likely-to-be-crowded 2016 field.
Trump said that Romney fails to appeal to the Republican base and as such would lose yet again.
“Many Republicans stayed home,” Trump said of 2012. “If the Republicans came out and voted, he would have won. People don’t understand, many, many Republicans stayed home–and John McCain actually got more votes than Mitt Romney.”
Trump said what he’s looking for in a potential GOP nominee is “greatness.”
“This country has gone so far down that the next president has to be a truly great one,” Trump said. “Not a good one–that’s not going to be good enough. Our country has gone so far downhill that we are going to need a truly great president the next time around to bring this country back.”
Trump will play an important role in the 2016 process no matter how it shakes out. He’s considering a run himself, but even if he doesn’t run his millions of potential campaign dollars make him an invaluable backer and kingmaker to whoever he does support.
“For one thing it’s leadership,” Trump replied when asked to explain what he meant by “greatness.”
“We need leadership and we have to be led in the proper direction,” Trump said. “We don’t need leaders who are going to destroy the country and we don’t need leaders who are going to say people from West Africa who are seriously infected with Ebola have the right to come into our country–stop the flights. There’s so many things.”
“Look at what’s happened with Iraq,” he continued. “I predicted every single thing that’s happened with Iraq if you remember. I said somebody worse than Saddam Hussein will now take over, and I used to say ‘take the oil because somebody else will get it’ and it turned out to be ISIS. ISIS is funding their whole campaign with the oil.”
Trump added that America’s “open borders” is “another issue” that’s big.
“It doesn’t get any simpler than that, and this president can’t get his hands around it–or doesn’t want to,” Trump said of America’s insecure border with Mexico and wide open immigration policies.
Because Romney failed, Trump said, America has had to deal with a “disaster” of a second term of Obama.
“His second term is a total disaster–a complete and total disaster, worse even than the first term other than Obamacare, but worse even than the first term,” Trump said. “You look at what’s happening with the borders, and you look at what’s happening with ISIS, you look at what his views are on Ebola with letting the flights continue in, you look at Sgt. [Andrew] Tahmooressi–where you have a Marine sitting in Mexico, and we’re the number one country for Mexico in terms of exports and we pay them fortunes and fortunes of money and we can’t even get a marine out who shouldn’t be there. You look at what’s going on with Russia and Putin, and you look at what’s happening with China stealing all our jobs and it’s a catastrophe. Many of these things were going on originally and Obama was meant to be beaten and Romney couldn’t beat him.”
Trump added that he hopes Republicans on the campaign trail don’t fall into Romney’s trap and fight the Democrats as hard as they can this year to retake the U.S. Senate.
“It should have a very negative impact on the Democrats and that’s why in theory the Republicans should do very well in November,” Trump said. “The president should have and I believe will have a very large impact–and we’ll see what’s going to happen. But at this moment, with everything that’s going wrong with the country and the tremendous unpopularity of the president–and when you have somebody who’s running against Mitch McConnell that doesn’t even want to say who she voted for, and is afraid and embarrassed to say who she voted for and is afraid to talk as opposed to frankly saying she voted for Obama, she’s embarrassed to say she voted for him–that’s a pretty negative situation. The unpopularity of the president should have a major negative impact on the Democrats and a positive impact on the Republicans. But you have to see what happens on Nov. 4.”