Former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney delved into why he chose this week to begin attacking 2016 frontrunner Donald Trump so forcefully, saying Friday on The Today Show that he “couldn’t stand silent anymore.”
Romney gave a televised address Thursday laying into Trump for being a vulgar fraud unfit for office, lambasting him over his personal peccadilloes, shady business past and blustery temperament.
“The time came when Donald Trump’s outrage had reached such a level that I simply had to speak out,” Romney said.
Host Matt Lauer asked Romney whether he felt his “unprecedented” speech would matter in the end, given Trump’s ability to survive moments that would have derailed typical politicians.
“I don’t know if it will or not, but I know I couldn’t stand silent anymore,” Romney said. “You can’t have someone whose policies are so far from the views of my party become our nominee, and someone who has demonstrated over time that he doesn’t have the temperament or the personal qualities to be a great president.”
Lauer noted the obvious awkwardness of the situation, given Romney welcomed Trump’s endorsement in 2012. Trump himself has claimed Romney “begged” for his endorsement the same year he fell short against President Obama, but Romney aides have disputed this.
Trump called Romney a “choke artist” Thursday before that night’s GOP debate.
Romney still has not endorsed John Kasich, Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz, the three other candidates remaining, but he said he could see picking one of them on March 15, when the field likely narrows.
He added he and Trump “get along,” although he laughed that they wouldn’t likely be spending time together soon.
He also threw cold water on the idea he might step up and run himself if it came to that.
“I’m not running for president, and I won’t run for president,” Romney said.