Trump has caused dismay across the world, says Mitt Romney
US president takes aim at fellow Republican’s failed White House bid in response
In this file photo taken on November 19th, 2016, Donald Trump shakes hands with Mitt Romney after their meeting at the clubhouse of Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. Photograph: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images
Mitt Romney, the former Republican presidential candidate and incoming US senator from Utah, has sharply criticised US president Donald Trump and suggested Mr Trump had caused dismay across the world.
In a Washington Post article published on Tuesday evening, Mr Romney criticised a number of Mr Trump’s actions in December.
“The appointment of senior persons of lesser experience, the abandonment of allies who fight beside us, and the president’s thoughtless claim that America has long been a ‘sucker’ in world affairs all defined his presidency down,” he wrote.
He added: “Trump’s words and actions have caused dismay around the world.”
Responding on Twitter on Wednesday, Mr Trump cautioned Mr Romney to be a “team player” and took aim at Romney’s failed 2012 White House bid.
“Here we go with Mitt Romney, but so fast! Question will be, is he a Flake? I hope not. Would much prefer that Mitt focus on Border Security and so many other things where he can be helpful. I won big, and he didn’t. He should be happy for all Republicans. Be a TEAM player & WIN!” the president tweeted.
The tweet appeared to reference outgoing US senator Jeff Flake, one of the few Republican politicians to have publicly spoken out against Mr Trump.
Here we go with Mitt Romney, but so fast! Question will be, is he a Flake? I hope not. Would much prefer that Mitt focus on Border Security and so many other things where he can be helpful. I won big, and he didn’t. He should be happy for all Republicans. Be a TEAM player & WIN!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2019
In the piece, Mr Romney had praise for some of Mr Trump’s policy decisions, but said: “With the nation so divided, resentful and angry, presidential leadership in qualities of character is indispensable.
“And it is in this province where the incumbent’s shortfall has been most glaring.”
Mr Romney said he does not intend to comment on every tweet by Mr Trump, but he promises to “speak out against significant statements or actions that are divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest or destructive to democratic institutions”.
Mr Romney suggested that “on balance, [Mr Trump’s] conduct over the past two years . . . is evidence that the president has not risen to the mantle of the office.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mr Romney is staking out an independent position two days before he takes his seat in the Senate, having won 62.6 per cent of the vote in Utah.
It is unclear whether Mr Trump will face a serious challenge in 2020 to securing the Republican Party’s presidential nomination.
Mr Trump last February endorsed Mr Romney’s run for a Senate seat in Utah.
‘Choked like a dog’
During the 2016 presidential election campaign, Mr Romney excoriated Mr Trump as a “fraud” who was “playing the American public for suckers”. Mr Trump responded that Mr Romney had “choked like a dog” in his unsuccessful 2012 campaign against Democratic president Barack Obama.
Despite Mr Romney’s prior criticism, after Mr Trump won the presidency in November 2016, he briefly considered appointing Mr Romney as secretary of state.
Mr Romney has since strongly defended press freedom and challenged Mr Trump’s repeated attacks on some news outlets.
On Twitter, Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel criticised Mr Romney’s essay, calling it an “attack” on Mr Trump that was “disappointing and unproductive”. Ms McDaniel is Mr Romney’s niece. – Reuters/PA