Mitt Romney has already made it clear he's on team #NeverTrump, but Friday he promised to put his vote where his words have been. The former Republican presidential nominee said he will vote for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the Utah caucus on Tuesday.
“This week, in the Utah nominating caucus, I will vote for Senator Ted Cruz,” Romney said in a Facebook post Friday afternoon. “Today, there is a contest between Trumpism and Republicanism. Through the calculated statements of its leader, Trumpism has become associated with racism, misogyny, bigotry, xenophobia, vulgarity and, most recently, threats and violence. I am repulsed by each and every one of these.”
The announcement follows a blistering speech Romney gave earlier this month in which he condemned Trump and urged Republicans not to vote for the New York businessman. During that speech, delivered at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Romney called Trump a “phony” and a “fraud” and warned that the GOP front-runner was “playing members of the American public for suckers.”
Since Romney’s speech, establishment members of the Republican Party have ramped up their efforts to stop Trump’s candidacy, spending heavily in primary states like Florida, Illinois and Michigan. However, their efforts have been largely fruitless and critics say they have come too late and are backfiring. After anti-Trump super PACs spent millions of dollars in those states, Trump won each by large margins.
Many establishment party members had hoped to coalesce around Florida Sen. Marco Rubio as an alternative to Trump and Cruz, who they also dislike, but Rubio dropped out of the presidential race Tuesday night after he lost his home state's primary to Trump. In the few days since Rubio has exited the race, several establishment GOP politicians have made the case that Cruz is their last hope to stop Trump.
South Carolina’s Republican Gov. Nikki Haley said this week she was praying that Cruz could defeat Trump, and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who initially ran for president himself and then backed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, also said he would fundraise for the Texas senator.
Trump responded to Romney’s announcement Friday with a short storm of tweets, saying that the former Massachusetts governor’s endorsement of “Lyin’ Ted” would help him.
Failed presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the man who "choked" and let us all down, is now endorsing Lyin' Ted Cruz. This is good for me!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 18, 2016
With Trump now leading Cruz by more than 200 delegates, many Republicans have turned their hopes to a contested convention, at which they could try to sway delegates to Cruz or some other candidate such as Romney or House Speaker Paul Ryan. Romney has said he is not interested in being the party’s nominee, but he did advocate in his Facebook post for choosing someone other than Trump at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July.
“The only path that remains to nominate a Republican rather than Mr. Trump is to have an open convention. At this stage, the only way we can reach an open convention is for Sen. Cruz to be successful in as many of the remaining nominating elections as possible,” Romney said.
Romney has previously campaigned with Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the other remaining Republican presidential candidate, but he said Friday that a vote for Kasich at this point would only help Trump.
“I like Gov. John Kasich. I have campaigned with him. He has a solid record as governor. I would have voted for him in Ohio. But a vote for Gov. Kasich in future contests makes it extremely likely that Trumpism would prevail,” Romney said. “I will vote for Sen. Cruz and I encourage others to do so as well, so that we can have an open convention and nominate a Republican.”