Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee, will not vote for the party’s presumptive nominee Donald Trump, as a vote for him, he said on Friday, will be a vote to legitimise racism and misogyny.
Trump shocked and outraged even supporters recently when he said the Mexican descent federal judge overseeing cases against Trump University was biased against him.
The remarks were called “textbook racism” though he tried to walk them back claiming they were “misconstrued”. However, he may have crossed a line here even by his own low standards.
Romney told CNN in an interview on Friday: “I don’t want to see trickle-down racism … I don’t want to see a president of the United States saying things which change the character of the generations of Americans that are following.
“Presidents have an impact on the nature of our nation, and trickle-down racism, trickle-down bigotry, trickle-down misogyny, all these things are extraordinarily dangerous to the heart and character of America.”
Trump fired back in a tweet on Saturday: “Mitt Romney had his chance to beat a failed president but he choked like a dog. Now he calls me racist - but I am the least racist person there is.”
He followed that up with a tweet thanking Don King, an African American boxing promoter, for his endorsement: “Don King, and so many other African Americans who know me well and endorsed me, would not have done so if they thought I was a racist!”
At an annual ideas-summit hosted on Friday by Romney, his 2012 running mate and the current House speaker, Paul Ryan, was severely grilled about his support for Trump.
At a closed-door session at the same summit, Republican-leaning HP CEO Meg Whitman compared Trump to Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, the Washington Post reported, citing multiple people who were in the room.
Many Republicans, such as Romney, leery of their presumptive nominee, now appear more determined than ever to oppose him, and others have said they would have to reconsider their support.
Republican senator Mark Kirk, who is seeking re-election, rescinded his endorsement of Trump this week, and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell won’t rule out doing so.
Former presidents George HW Bush and George W Bush have already said they have no plans to endorse Trump or attend the convention where he will be crowned nominee.
Many others in the party who remain hostile to Trump’s nomination have continues to look for alternatives — a few of them may even vote for Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival.
Republican senator from Maine, Susan Collins, told The New Yorker on Thursday she was so disgusted with Trump’s remarks that she would not rule out supporting Clinton.