Mitt Romney calls Donald Trump a ‘phony and a fraud’

The following is the text of remarks as prepared for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, for an address he gave Thursday attacking the GOP’s 2016 front-runner, Donald Trump:

I am not here to announce my candidacy for office. I am not going to endorse a candidate today. Instead, I would like to offer my perspective on the nominating process of my party. In 1964, days before the presidential election which, incidentally, we lost, Ronald Reagan went on national television and challenged America saying that it was a “Time for Choosing.” He saw two paths for America, one that embraced conservative principles dedicated to lifting people out of poverty and helping create opportunity for all, and the other, an oppressive government that would lead America down a darker, less free path. I’m no Ronald Reagan and this is a different moment but I believe with all my heart and soul that we face another time for choosing, one that will have profound consequences for the Republican Party and more importantly, for the country.

I say this in part because of my conviction that America is poised to lead the world for another century. Our technology engines, our innovation dynamic, and the ambition and skill of our people will propel our economy and raise our standard of living. America will remain as it is today, the envy of the world.

Warren Buffett was 100% right when he said last week that “the babies being born in America today are the luckiest crop in history.”

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Mitt Romney blasts Donald Trump as a ‘phony,’ says GOP front-runner’s promises are ‘worthless’
Mitt Romney blasts Donald Trump as a ‘phony,’ says GOP front-runner’s promises are ‘worthless’

That doesn’t mean we don’t have real problems and serious challenges. At home, poverty persists and wages are stagnant. The horrific massacres of Paris and San Bernardino, the nuclear ambitions of the Iranian mullahs, the aggressions of Putin, the growing assertiveness of China and the nuclear tests of North Korea confirm that we live in troubled and dangerous times.

But if we make the right choices, America’s future will be even better than our past and better than our present.

On the other hand, if we make improvident choices, the bright horizon I foresee will never materialize. Let me put it plainly, if we Republicans choose Donald Trump as our nominee, the prospects for a safe and prosperous future are greatly diminished.

Let me explain why.

First, the economy: If Donald Trump’s plans were ever implemented, the country would sink into a prolonged recession.

A few examples: His proposed 35% tariff-like penalties would instigate a trade war that would raise prices for consumers, kill export jobs, and lead entrepreneurs and businesses to flee America. His tax plan, in combination with his refusal to reform entitlements and to honestly address spending would balloon the deficit and the national debt. So even as Donald Trump has offered very few specific economic plans, what little he has said is enough to know that he would be very bad for American workers and for American families.

But wait, you say, isn’t he a huge business success that knows what he’s talking about? No he isn’t. His bankruptcies have crushed small businesses and the men and women who worked for them. He inherited his business, he didn’t create it. And what ever happened to Trump Airlines? How about Trump University? And then there’s Trump Magazine and Trump Vodka and Trump Steaks, and Trump Mortgage? A business genius he is not.

Now not every policy Donald Trump has floated is bad. He wants to repeal and replace Obamacare. He wants to bring jobs home from China and Japan. But his prescriptions to do these things are flimsy at best. At the last debate, all he could remember about his healthcare plan was to remove insurance boundaries between states. Successfully bringing jobs home requires serious policy and reforms that make America the place businesses want to plant and grow. You can’t punish business into doing the things you want. Frankly, the only serious policy proposals that deal with the broad range of national challenges we confront, come today from Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich. One of these men should be our nominee.

I know that some people want the race to be over. They look at history and say a trend like Mr. Trump’s isn’t going to be stopped.

Perhaps. But the rules of political history have pretty much all been shredded during this campaign. If the other candidates can find common ground, I believe we can nominate a person who can win the general election and who will represent the values and policies of conservatism. Given the current delegate selection process, this means that I would vote for Marco Rubio in Florida, for John Kasich in Ohio, and for Ted Cruz or whichever one of the other two contenders has the best chance of beating Mr. Trump in a given state.

Let me turn to national security and the safety of our homes and loved ones. Trump’s bombast is already alarming our allies and fueling the enmity of our enemies. Insulting all Muslims will keep many of them from fully engaging with us in the urgent fight against ISIS. And for what purpose? Muslim terrorists would only have to lie about their religion to enter the country.

What he said on “60 Minutes” about Syria and ISIS has to go down as the most ridiculous and dangerous idea of the campaign season: Let ISIS take out Assad, he said, and then we can pick up the remnants. Think about that: Let the most dangerous terror organization the world has ever known take over a country? This is recklessness in the extreme.

Donald Trump tells us that he is very, very smart. I’m afraid that when it comes to foreign policy he is very, very not smart.

I am far from the first to conclude that Donald Trump lacks the temperament of be president. After all, this is an individual who mocked a disabled reporter, who attributed a reporter’s questions to her menstrual cycle, who mocked a brilliant rival who happened to be a woman due to her appearance, who bragged about his marital affairs, and who laces his public speeches with vulgarity.

Donald Trump says he admires Vladimir Putin, while has called George W. Bush a liar. That is a twisted example of evil trumping good.

There is dark irony in his boasts of his sexual exploits during the Vietnam War while John McCain, whom he has mocked, was imprisoned and tortured.
Donald Trump fires back at Mitt Romney
Donald Trump fires back at Mitt Romney

Dishonesty is Trump’s hallmark: He claimed that he had spoken clearly and boldly against going into Iraq. Wrong, he spoke in favor of invading Iraq. He said he saw thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating 9/11. Wrong, he saw no such thing. He imagined it. His is not the temperament of a stable, thoughtful leader. His imagination must not be married to real power.

The President of the United States has long been the leader of the free world. The president and yes the nominees of the country’s great parties help define America to billions of people. All of them bear the responsibility of being an example for our children and grandchildren.

Think of Donald Trump’s personal qualities, the bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third grade theatrics. We have long referred to him as “The Donald.” He is the only person in America to whom we have added an article before his name. It wasn’t because he had attributes we admired.

Now imagine your children and your grandchildren acting the way he does. Will you welcome that? Haven’t we seen before what happens when people in prominent positions fail the basic responsibility of honorable conduct? We have, and it always injures our families and our country.

Watch how he 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 relishes any poll that reflects what he thinks of himself. But polls are also saying that he will lose to Hillary Clinton.

On Hillary Clinton’s watch at the State Department, America’s interests were diminished in every corner of the world. She compromised our national secrets, dissembled to the families of the slain, and jettisoned her most profound beliefs to gain presidential power.

For the last three decades, the Clintons have lived at the intersection of money and politics, trading their political influence to enrich their personal finances. They embody the term “crony capitalism.” It disgusts the American people and causes them to lose faith in our political process.

A person so untrustworthy and dishonest as Hillary Clinton must not become president. But a Trump nomination enables her victory. The audio and video of the infamous Tapper-Trump exchange on the Ku Klux Klan will play a hundred thousand times on cable and who knows how many million times on social media.

There are a number of people who claim that Mr. Trump is a con man, a fake. There is indeed evidence of that. Mr. Trump has changed his positions not just over the years, but over the course of the campaign, and on the Ku Klux Klan, daily for three days in a row.

We will only really know if he is the real deal or a phony if he releases his tax returns and the tape of his interview with the New York Times. I predict that there are more bombshells in his tax returns. I predict that he doesn’t give much if anything to the disabled and to our veterans. I predict that he told the New York Times that his immigration talk is just that: talk. And I predict that despite his promise to do so, first made over a year ago, he will never ever release his tax returns. Never. Not the returns under audit, not even the returns that are no longer being audited. He has too much to hide. Nor will he authorize the Times to release the tapes. If I’m right, you will have all the proof you need to know that Donald Trump is a phony.

Attacking me as he surely will won’t prove him any less of a phony. It’s entirely in his hands to prove me wrong. All he has to do is to release his back taxes like he promised he would, and let us hear what he said behind closed doors to the New York Times.

Ronald Reagan used to quote a Scottish philosopher who predicted that democracies and civilizations couldn’t last more than about 200 years. John Adams wrote this: “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” I believe that America has proven these dire predictions wrong for two reasons.

First, we have been blessed with great presidents, with giants among us. Men of character, integrity and selflessness have led our nation from its very beginning. None were perfect: each surely made mistakes. But in every case, they acted out of the desire to do what was right for America and for freedom.

The second reason is because we are blessed with a great people, people who at every critical moment of choosing have put the interests of the country above their own.

These two things are related: our presidents time and again have called on us to rise to the occasion. John F. Kennedy asked us to consider what we could do for our country. Lincoln drew upon the better angels of our nature to save the union.

I understand the anger Americans feel today. In the past, our presidents have channeled that anger, and forged it into resolve, into endurance and high purpose, and into the will to defeat the enemies of freedom. Our anger was transformed into energy directed for good.

Mr. Trump is directing our anger for less than noble purposes. He creates scapegoats of Muslims and Mexican immigrants, he calls for the use of torture and for killing the innocent children and family members of terrorists. He cheers assaults on protesters. He applauds the prospect of twisting the Constitution to limit first amendment freedom of the press. This is the very brand of anger that has led other nations into the abyss.

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.

His domestic policies would lead to recession. His foreign policies would make America and the world less safe. He has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president. And his personal qualities would mean that America would cease to be a shining city on a hill.

America has greatness ahead. This is a time for choosing. God bless us to choose a nominee who will make that vision a reality.


What’s going to happen to the tech world in 2016? While of course no one really knows for sure, it’s possible to make a few semieducated guesses. Here are 10 predictions for the biggest tech trends for the coming year — from the blindingly obvious to the wildly speculative.

1. Apple will unveil a new Watch and a new iPhone

One artists’s concept of the upcoming iPhone 7. (Photo: Yahoo News)

This is the easiest prediction in the world, which is why we started with it (guaranteeing that at least one of these will be right). Apple is expected to release Apple Watch 2.0 sometime this spring, we hope with an improved interface and a lot more apps. And next fall will see the release of the iPhone 7, which (if rumors are to be believed) will include a fingerprint sensor on the screen, wireless charging, multiple cameras, and a USB-C port instead of power or headphone jacks.

2. Apple’s dominance of tech culture will decline

Since the Second Coming of Jobs in 1997, interest in all things Apple has been climbing at a steady rate, going into hyperdrive with the release of the iPhone (2007) and then the iPad (2010). Lately, though, the products coming out of Cupertino have been less than magical and life-changing.

And for all of Tim Cook’s many fine qualities, he can’t generate a reality distortion field the way his predecessor could. Until Cook manages to pull another rabbit out of his iHat — an Apple Car? a fully integrated smart home? — the Apple mystique has clearly peaked. Nowhere to go but down.

3. Virtual reality will finally be real — and most people will go ‘meh’

Yahoo Tech’s Dan Howley tries out an early version of the HTC Vive. (Photo: Yahoo Tech)

After nearly four years of teasing us, the Oculus Rift VR headset will finally reach consumers this year, probably some time in the early spring. HTC’s Vive and Sony’s Playstation VR (formerly Morpheus) will likely appear a few months after that. And no matter how awesome they are — and odds are they will be pretty awesome — very few people will buy them.

Why? They’ll likely be expensive, require vast amounts of computing power, and be limited mostly to games and porn (ewww). The fact is, after four years of hype, VR headsets can’t possibly live up to expectations. And then there’s the whole after-15-minutes-you-feel-like-puking factor (10 minutes if you’re watching porn). VR will find a niche audience, at best, for a long time to come.

4. AR will beat up VR and steal its lunch money

While the world oohs, ahhs, and hurls over VR (but doesn’t buy it), Augmented Reality (AR) will infiltrate all kinds of industries, from design and engineering to architecture, education, and medicine. Why? Being less immersive — you can actually see the world around you, as well as virtual objects — makes AR much more practical.

What the world of HoloLens looks like when you’re wearing one. That coffee table is real; the Minecraft house sitting on it is not. (Photo: Yahoo News).

Microsoft just released a new version of its HoloLens and will begin shipping $3,000 HoloLens development kits this spring. Google Glass will also emerge from the rock it’s been hiding under since its ill-fated debut, most likely aimed at industrial use.

5. Comcast will try to acquire Netflix — or possibly vice versa

Whether or not you’re a cord-cutter, streaming media is the future of entertainment — and nobody streams bigger than Netflix, which accounted for nearly 40 percent of all Internet traffic last year. Since big cable can’t beat the streamers at this game, the only thing left is for it to join them by acquisition; Comcast ($192 billion valuation) and Netflix ($42 billion) are the most logical candidates for an arranged marriage. While it stands to reason that the larger company will swallow the smaller one, it’s not inconceivable that the reverse will happen — not unlike AOL’s acquisition of Time Warner 15 years ago, but perhaps with better results.

6. Antidrone technology will rise

Battelle’s antidrone gun uses radio waves, not buckshot, to take drones out of the air. (Photo: Battelle)

The only thing people love more than reading about drones is hating them — witness all the cheering when a Kentucky man blasted one out of the sky with his shotgun last July. (Not to mention all the animals that love to attack drones.) Look for companies to come up with antidrone technology that use nonballistic methods of ridding the flight zones of these pests. Let the games begin, and let the odds be ever in the antidrones’ favor.

7. Facebook will continue to eat the world

The Facebook juggernaut will continue, though most of its membership growth will be overseas. However, expect a public backlash as Facebook assumes just a bit too much control over the media it arbitrarily delivers to everyone’s feeds. How many autoplay videos of bacon, egg, and cheese breadboats can one person watch?

How to make a bacon, egg, and cheese breadboat was Facebook’s most popular video in 2015. Anyone else hungry? (YouTube)

8. Cyberterrorists will attack the Internet

We’ve seen targeted hack attacks on a massive scale, and we’ve seen state-sponsored cyberespionage. In 2016 we will see them converge, with a direct attack on the Internet infrastructure motivated by politics, not greed or misplaced juvenile aggression. Time to back up your data, encrypt your hard drives, and stock up on beef jerky and tinfoil.

9. There will be an Uber for friends

Need a date for a party or someone to hang with at a ballgame? Just share someone else’s. Frog Design predicts the rise of “friendship as a service” in 2016. We liked that prediction so much we decided to borrow it. Isn’t that what the sharing economy is all about?

10. Your next boss may be an algorithm

The Ethereum platform allows bots to post jobs, find qualified workers, and pay them when the work is done using virtual currency — no puny humans required. (Image: Ethereum Frontier)

Artificial intelligence will continue to be baked into an increasing number of devices and services. More than that, though, entire companies may be built around self-running programs, with business decisions made without any human intervention. Think we’re joking? The first decentralized organizations are already being developed for the Ethereum Frontier network. We have met our robotic overlords, and we’d like a 10 percent raise and more flex time, please.

Dan Tynan predicts he will be moderately hung-over on Jan. 1, 2016. Commiserate with him on Twitter.


Trump’s indecent presidential campaign: Our view

When a woman at one of Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s campaign rallies in 2008 said she couldn’t trust Barack Obama because he was “an Arab,” McCain stopped her.

“No, ma’am,” McCain said. “He’s a decent family man (and) citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what this campaign’s all about.” It was a sign of the senator’s fundamental decency, and one of the finest moments of his campaign.

Now, sadly, there’s Donald Trump, who entered the 2016 Republican presidential race after years of trafficking in falsehoods about Obama’s birthplace. On the campaign trail, Trump has had any number of similar chances to try to rein in the bigots and racists among his supporters. Instead, he has encouraged them with his toxic, inflammatory rhetoric. Whatever entertainment value his campaign might have once had is drowning in a cesspool of ugliness.

Trump recently retweeted statistics, apparently fabricated by a neo-Nazi, purporting to show that blacks commit the vast majority of murders of whites, which is easily refuted by actual FBI crime statistics. Did the billionaire bully apologize for the error? Of course not; apologies are for losers.

When a Black Lives Matter protester interrupted one of his rallies recently, Trump snarled to his supporters, who were kicking and punching the man, to “get him the hell out of here!” Asked about it later, Trump said maybe the man “should have been roughed up.” All presidential candidates get heckled. The test is how they react. Trump sided with the goons.

Trump, who continues to lead in GOP polls, repeatedly says things that show he lacks the temperament to lead the free world. He shamelessly mocked McCain for getting captured in Vietnam, slimed Mexican immigrants as drug traffickers and rapists, and characterized women who got under his skin as ugly or crazed by their hormones.

Most recently, Trump responded to the Paris attacks by suggesting that Muslim Americans be required to register with the government. (When a reporter asked him how that was different from Nazis forcing Jews to identify themselves by wearing yellow stars, he had no answer.) He repeated the thoroughly discredited story that “thousands and thousands” of American Muslims in New Jersey cheered the destruction and death in New York City on 9/11. When a reporter with a physical disability questioned his account, Trump mocked the reporter and lied about whether he remembered him. And, as recently as Sunday, Trump continued to vastly exaggerate the number of Syrian refugees the Obama administration plans to admit into the USA.

All of this fear-mongering comes on top of his preposterous plan to deport the roughly 11 million immigrants in this country illegally, which would be the equivalent of emptying the state of Ohio.

Even minimal thought about the mechanics of doing this should convince most people that it wouldn’t just be inhumane to rip millions of people out of communities where they’ve worked and raised families for years; almost two-thirds have lived in the U.S. for 10 years or more. It would cost the federal government billions of dollars, require the creation of an enormous police state and be hugely destabilizing to the economy.

Pandering to voters’ basest impulses is, of course, a time-honored tradition in American politics. Usually, someone arises with the courage to take on a demagogue. Some of Trump’s Republican rivals — including John Kasich and Carly Fiorina — have stepped up their attacks, but others have been afraid to hit him hard for fear of alienating his supporters.

In 1954, Wisconsin GOP Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s campaign to ferret out supposed communists in America seemed unstoppable until a little known Boston lawyer confronted McCarthy during a televised Senate hearing after McCarthy accused a junior lawyer of communist ties. “Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness,” said attorney Joseph Welch. “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?”

It’s time that today’s Joseph Welch confronts Donald Trump with the same question.

USA TODAY’s editorial opinions are decided by its Editorial Board, separate from the news staff. Most editorials are coupled with an opposing view — a unique USA TODAY feature.