“Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud,” Romney said in a speech Thursday. “His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing the American public for suckers.”
Romney’s speech contained all the criticisms one would expect, but the emphasis on Trump’s dishonesty and phoniness was remarkable because of the person giving the speech. I suppose no one would be more of an expert in phoniness and dishonesty than Romney, but there is also no one more ill-suited to criticize another politician for these flaws than he is. As I said earlier in the week, it’s fair to call Trump a fraud or a con artist, but almost no one has less credibility to make that accusation than Romney. The fact that Romney happily sought and received Trump’s endorsement just a few years ago just makes the denunciation today that much less meaningful.
Romney also took some shots at Clinton during the speech, and at one point said that “she jettisoned her most profound beliefs to gain presidential power.” That would be a more powerful criticism if it came from someone who hadn’t spent at least seven years doing much the same thing before failing to win the election. One of the few constants in Romney’s presidential campaigns was the willingness to say or do almost anything to become nominee, and it didn’t matter how many supposedly deeply-held beliefs he had to cast aside in the process.
For those convinced that Romney is setting himself up to step in as a candidate at a contested convention, Coppins’ report will come as a surprise:
His reemergence has, predictably, set off a fresh wave of speculation about his own political intentions, and two former Romney advisers said they’ve heard from scores of donors and loyalists this week asking if he is positioning himself to be drafted from the convention floor. But Romney has been adamant in public that he has no interest in such an outcome, and is expected to keep pushing back against the speculation, believing that his anti-Trump message will be undermined if it’s viewed as advancing his own self-interest.
It won’t matter, since any “anti-Trump message” is made weaker when he is the one delivering it. If anti-Trump Republicans wanted to come up with the worst, most compromised messenger for their cause, they could scarcely have done better than Romney.