As promised, Mitt Romney speeched his big speech. He called out Trump for adopting hateful rhetoric and dangerous policies. He warned that a Trump nomination would both guarantee a victory for Hillary Clinton and/or an economic recession. He used big words like “improvident” and “vulgarity” to remind all of Trump’s voters exactly why they’re voting for Trump in the first place. He levied most, perhaps all, of the obvious criticisms of Trump that also happen to apply to himself.
He even tried his hand at being the least bit self-aware after his speech ended:
If Trump had said 4 years ago the things he says today about the KKK, Muslims, Mexicans, disabled, I would NOT have accepted his endorsement
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) March 3, 2016
Setting aside for the moment that Romney sought Trump’s endorsement and announced it in a high-profile, fawning media event — rather than having merely accepted it — Romney knew damn well how toxic Trump was at the time. This was the same Donald Trump who had been sued for refusing to rent to black people, called for the death penalty for the Central Park Five and spearheaded the patently racist birther movement. The latter was one of the reasons why Romney went to the lengths he did to get Trump’s stamp of approval: a sizeable chunk of Republican voters still don’t think President Obama is eligible to be president, and he needed them to come out and vote for him.
To be fair, Romney did include one incredibly spot-on prediction in his speech:
Watch how [Trump] responds to my speech today. Will he talk about our policy differences or will he attack me with every imaginable low road insult? This may tell you what you need to know about his temperament, his stability, and his suitability to be president.
Trump played right along, unable to pass on the opportunity to remind his supporters that he is the alpha male, and to remind the American commentariat why Freud still matters:
Trump says Romney was begging for endorsement: "I could have said 'Mitt drop to your knees.' He would have dropped to his knees."
— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) March 3, 2016
In case there’s any confusion over whether Trump was saying that Romney would have begged him or blown him for his endorsement, here’s the video for context:
The hyper-masculine sexual subtext throughout Trump’s campaign has been palpable. I’m amazed Trump made it through his entire speech today without calling Romney a cuckservative.
While Romney may have been completely correct in predicting that Trump would respond to him with little of substance, it isn’t like he didn’t have this coming. He really did debase himself for Trump’s endorsement, and it really is quite rich for Romney in particular to have laid into Trump the way he did this morning. There was little, if anything, that he could have said today that would have done any real damage to Donald Trump’s chances to win the nomination. But by repeating all of the establishment Republican critiques of Trump — things that Trump’s voters love about him and hate about Romney — he set himself up to get smacked down.
Again, I’m really not sure why he thought this was a good idea.