It’s been a busy day for the GOP. Mitt Romney took the stage in Salt Lake City, weighing in with an anti-endorsement of Donald Trump. Two hours later, Chris Christie held a press conference in New Jersey. His message: Donald Trump is not holding me hostage.
Sarah Palin and John Kasich jumped into the fray, too. And Trump — as you might expect — also had something to say.
All this on an already big day for Republicans; the Fox News Channel Republican debate is scheduled for tonight in Detroit.
Here are the moments of the day so far:
1. Mitt Romney, elder statesman of the GOP, put it in no uncertain terms: “If we Republicans choose Donald Trump as our nominee, the prospects for a safe and prosperous future are greatly diminished.” He went on to indict Trump’s business record, personal demeanor, foreign policy proposals, and more. Among his closing words: “Here’s what I know. Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. 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.”
2. Chris Christie, speaking in New Jersey, reminded the world he was still governor of New Jersey, said he won’t resign from that office, and asserted his independence from Trump. “I am not a full-time surrogate for Donald Trump,” he said. “I am an endorser of Donald Trump. . . . I’ve known him personally for 14 years, and I believe he is the best person to beat Hillary Clinton.” Of the cyber-reaction Christie faced following his appearance at Trump’s Super Tuesday address, Christie said, “I was standing there listening to him. . . . No, I wasn’t being held hostage. No, I wasn’t sitting up there thinking ‘Oh my God, what have I done?’ ”
3. Sarah Palin, moments after Romney’s speech, posted a Romney attack ad on Facebook. The cuts of his record on amnesty, the Affordable Care Act, abortion, bailouts, and global warming might make you think that Romney is running in the 2016 campaign. Worth noting: The end of the video states “Paid for by Donald J. Trump for President.”
4. John Kasich lightly took on Trump at a press conference in Detroit. “I just don’t want to go and talk about the size of his hands or what kind of a tan he has, I mean, that’s not the way to get this done,” he said. Kasich walked out of his press conference nodding to Ohio. “We are going to go all-out to win Ohio,” he said. “I am going to win Ohio, plain and simple. That’s it.”
5. John McCain was more direct. In a statement today he said: “I share the concerns about Donald Trump that my friend and former Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, described in his speech today. I would also echo the many concerns about Mr. Trump’s uninformed and indeed dangerous statements on national security issues that have been raised by 65 Republican defense and foreign policy leaders.”
6. And then there was Trump this afternoon. In Maine. Firing back at Romney. “Mitt is a failed candidate. He failed. He failed horribly,” Trump said. “That was a race [in 2012] that should have been won. And I don’t know what happened to him. He disappeared.” Of his endorsement of Romney, Trump said, “I could have said, ‘Mitt drop to your knees,’ and he would have dropped to his knees.”