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Mitt Romney And Donald Trump Spar Over Future Of GOP

Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney walks off of his campaign plane past Donald Trump's plane in Las Vegas in 2012.
Getty Images
Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney walks off of his campaign plane past Donald Trump's plane in Las Vegas in 2012.

The most recent Republican presidential nominee is taking shots at Donald Trump's fitness to be president.

Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, called the current GOP front-runner "a phony, a fraud" in a speech Thursday morning in Salt Lake City.

"His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He's playing the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat," Romney said, referring to a real estate seminar Trump launched in 2005 that was forced to change its name because it wasn't a real university. It is now the subject of multiple lawsuits alleging fraudulent behavior.

"He has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president," said Romney.

As reports of the speech first surfaced in a Bloomberg News story, Trump was quick to fire back at Romney on Twitter, remarking, "Looks like two-time failed candidate Mitt Romney is going to be telling Republicans how to get elected."

In an interview Thursday morning with the Today Show, Trump called Romney a "stiff."

It wasn't always so contentious between the two Republican businessmen. Trump endorsed Romney's 2012 White House bid, and Romney eagerly reciprocated the love.

"I spent my life in the private sector — not quite as successful as this guy," Romney said at the time, turning and gesturing toward a gushing Trump. "But successful nonetheless."

Romney has been critical of Trump's tone for months, but this speech comes as Trump has won 10 of the first 15 nominating contests, holds a lead in convention delegates and shows little sign of flagging. While many Republican insiders are eager to rally around a non-Trump candidate, there's no indication voters are consolidating around an alternative.

In addition to criticizing his temperament, Romney argued that Trump is unelectable in a general election.

"Trump relishes any poll that reflects what he thinks of himself. But polls are also saying that he will lose to Hillary Clinton," said Romney.

This week, a group of more than 60 conservative foreign policy experts wrote an open letter denouncing Trump's statements, concluding that Trump is "fundamentally dishonest" and would "use the authority of his office to act in ways that make America less safe, and which would diminish our standing in the world."
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