Former presidential candidate labels businessman a "fraud"
Former Republican U.S. presidential nominee Mitt Romney criticizes current Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a speech at the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah March 3, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart,
03 of March 2016 12:19:15
DETROIT – Former U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney gave a blistering rebuke of 2016 Republican front-runner Donald Trump Thursday, leading an attempt by the party establishment to halt the rise of the outspoken New York billionaire.Romney, a Republican elder statesman and the nominee four years ago, urged Republicans in states that have not yet held nominating contests to back Trump's opponents to stop his march to the nomination for the Nov. 8 election to succeed President Barack Obama."Here's what I know. Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud," said Romney, 68, in a hard-hitting speech."He's playing the members of the American public for suckers. He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat," he said.Trump has made his party's mainstream uneasy with his positions on trade and immigration, including his calls to build a wall between the United States and Mexico, deport 11 million illegal immigrants and temporarily bar Muslims from entering the country.Fellow Republican candidate John Kasich showed his support for Romney's speech on Twitter:
"Here's what I know. Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud."- Mitt Romney. Former U.S. presidential candidateSenator John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee in 2008 who has sparred with Trump, joined the wave of criticism of the billionaire who took a step toward securing the nomination when he won most of the Republican contests on Super Tuesday this week.'DANGEROUS'"I would also echo the many concerns about Mr. Trump's uninformed and indeed dangerous statements on national security issues," said McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.Romney pointed to Trump's refusal to release his tax returns and initial reluctance to disavow an endorsement from a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan white supremacist group.Romney, who did not endorse anyone, suggested Republicans vote for candidates with the best chance against Trump in states still to hold nominating votes: Senator Marco Rubio in Florida, Ohio Governor Kasich in his home state, and Senator Ted Cruz from Texas where he is strong.Romney's speech came hours before Trump and his rivals share a stage in Detroit at 9 p.m. EST (0200 GMT Friday) for a debate hosted by Fox News.