WASHINGTON -- Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, has no plans to attend the coronation of his 2016 successor, saying he will boycott the Republican National Convention in July.
The decision of the party’s former standard bearer illustrates some of the mainstream GOP distaste for Donald Trump, who is now the party’s presumptive nominee.
Romney, who called Trump a “phony” and a “fraud’’ in a high-profile speech in March, worked to stop the real estate and casino mogul from capturing the nomination. He told the Globe in March that he would not vote for Trump, even if he won. Romney ridiculed Trump for not releasing his tax returns and said he would be dangerous for the country. But Romney receded from public view after Trump continued to gain momentum in the primary.
“Governor Romney has no plans to attend the convention,” said a Romney aide, confirming an account first reported by the Washington Post.
The only two living Republican presidents — George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush — announced on Wednesday that they would not attend the convention, either. Senator John McCain, the 2008 GOP nominee who is in a vigorous reelection fight in Arizona, is also planning to skip the convention.
The Bushes also skipped the convention in 2012, when Romney became the nominee, although McCain had a speaking slot.
Bob Dole, the party’s 1996 nominee, is reportedly planning to attend, making him the only living nominee with an affirmative RSVP.
Romney’s public rejection of Trump echoes the sentiments of his father, George Romney, nearly a half century ago.
In 1964, George Romney, joined by a 17-year-old Mitt, urged the party to adopt a platform rejecting “extremists.” But he failed, Barry Goldwater became the party’s nominee, and the elder Romney was angry.
He later wrote to Goldwater that he feared those who were “preaching and practicing hate and bearing false witness on the basis of guilt by association.”
“With such extremists rising to positions of leadership in the Republican Party, we cannot recapture the respect of the nation and lead it to its necessary spiritual, moral, and political rebirth if we hide our heads in the sand and decline to even recognize in our platform that the nation is again beset by modern ‘know nothings,’ ” Romney wrote.
Romney has similar feelings about the current state of the party.
“He didn’t endorse [Goldwater],” Romney said of his father during the earlier interview with the Globe. “I likewise will not endorse Donald Trump. I won’t vote for him.”