Earlier this afternoon, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney sat down with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer to say that he doesn’t support Donald Trump for president, and that he is not running for president. The former 2012 Republican nominee has been in the rumor mill that he would launch a third party bid to challenge Trump from the right. He’s met with The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol to discuss the possibility of a run, which he has finally killed off during this interview.
Romney said that it’s not a question of policy, but character for him. He can’t endorse Trump’s perceived bigotry and “racist approach” that he feels would be detrimental to the health of the nation, saying what he has said on the stump demonstrates who he is. He added that his rhetoric could change to hide that fact, but the damage is done. He can’t hide from it. Regarding Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is presiding over a lawsuit over Trump University, Trump said he should remove himself since his Mexican ancestry constitutes an “inherent conflict of interest.” Romney said that this wasn’t a slip of the tongue–he’s repeated it time and time again. And he never apologized for it. Trump has somewhat backed down on making those remarks. That doesn’t mean he won’t say something outrageous over this pending legal battle tomorrow.
“I don’t want to see trickle down racism,” said Romney, who added that he doesn’t want to see presidents trickle down bigotry, racism and misogyny that will be nothing but a detriment to the heart and character of the country.
For the former governor, this is more of a question about character and integrity, not policy. He said that if there was a person who held all of the positions that he does, but turns out to be an anti-Semite, he couldn’t—in good conscience—vote for that person. At the same time, that’s the end of it. You won’t see Romney on the campaign trail, bashing Trump, noting that he’s made his views known about the presumptive Republican nominee. When Blizter pretty much asked him who is worse, Clinton or Trump, Romney said that both candidates are flawed, but he had made his views known regarding endorsements, and that he’s not going to give worse marks to one candidate or the other.
He hasn’t ruled out endorsing former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, who with former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, form the Libertarian ticket. Romney said he is going to have to take a long look at Johnson since he doesn’t agree with the legalization of recreation marijuana use—or the overall legalization of narcotics.
“Marijuana makes people stupid,” he said. Now, if Bill Weld were at the top of the ticket, an endorsement would probably be in the cards. Concerning stopping Trump, Mr. Romney says that changing the rules and denying the nomination to him is not likely to happen. Commenting on the billionaire’s rise, Romney admitted that the record turnouts and the votes—and primary contests—he has amassed explicitly shows the level of anger voters have towards Washington.
As for the 2016 aspiration, Romney said that he thought “it was time for someone new,” and had zero regrets for not jumping into the 2016 ring. He lamented the “elementary school theatrics” that have dotted the 2016 campaign, adding that these tactics are probably not going to go away anytime soon, thereby lowering the estimation of the entire political process.
He’s also not confident that Trump will release his taxes. There’s something in those taxes that’s even worse then him shooting someone on Fifth Avenue observed Romney, referencing something Trump said in January to confidently show that his supporters would never leave him. When pressed as to what could be the reason, Romney told Blitzer that it could be a variety of issues, including him not paying them, having ownership in enterprises that are connected to unsavory groups and companies, or an exaggerated net worth. He doesn’t expect the billionaire to turn over those papers since he feels something more sinister is held within those pages.