A former aide to Mitt Romney today lambasted Donald Trump as an extraordinary war of words between the current GOP frontrunner and the last election’s Republican nominee heated up.
“People in the party don’t want to lose the presidency, lose a shot at appointing a Supreme Court nominee, and lose Senate seats because Donald Trump is undisciplined and does whatever he wants and flies off the handle,” Romney’s 2012 spokesman Ryan Williams said on Boston Herald Radio today. “He’s appealing to a small part of the electorate now which is enough to win him primaries but will potentially put him in a very bad spot in the general election.”
The ugly skirmish began yesterday when Romney — whose campaign raised millions from Trump after the billionaire endorsed him in the 2012 race — yesterday blasted the frontrunner for not releasing his tax records.
“Frankly, I think we have good reason to believe that there’s a bombshell in Donald Trump’s taxes,” Romney said on Fox News. “Either he’s not anywhere near as wealthy as he says he is, or he hasn’t been paying the kind of taxes we would expect him to pay or perhaps he hasn’t been giving money to the vets or the disabled, like he’s been telling us he’s been doing.”
Trump, who claims to be worth more than $10 billion, has acknowledged he pays as little in taxes as he can. He tweeted back last night: “Mitt Romney, who totally blew an election that should have been won and whose tax returns made him look like a fool, is now playing tough guy.”
He continued this morning with a scathing series of tweets:
“Mr Tough Guy Romney should be backing Trump like Trump backed him last time #NoLoyalty”
“I’m going to do what @MittRomney was totally unable to do- WIN!”
“Why doesn’t @MittRomney just endorse @marcorubio already. Should have done it before NH or Nevada where he had a little sway. Too late now!”
“Mitt Romney, who was one of the dumbest and worst candidates in the history of Republican politics, is now pushing me on tax returns. Dope!”
“Romney is a pawn of the Establishment and has no individual thought process. He is jealous of Trump!”
“Romney should have been a tough guy with Obama. He cowered and lost. BADLY! He’s not relevant!”
“Just for your info, tax returns have 0 to do w/ someone’s net worth. I have already filed my financial statements w/ FEC. They are great!”
Williams, now a Republican strategist, responded this morning by discussing the GOP establishment’s concerns about Trump’s candidacy.
“The concern is that he’s a loser, and he’s going to lose the general election,” Williams told “Morning Meeting” hosts Jaclyn Cashman and Hillary Chabot. “Trump is admittedly doing very, very well in the primaries. He’s appealing to the 30 percent to 45 percet of the sliver of the public who votes in Republican primaries. The question, though, is how would he do in the general election? And most of the people in the establishment think he would lose and not only lose but hurt other candidates running for Senate or governor because of the outrageous statements he’s made that have offended key constituencies. … His favorablity ratings are negative 64 points with Hispanics nationally. That puts him already at a very uncompetitive spot heading into states in the general election.”
Williams said the issue of Trump’s tax returns is unavoidable for the real estate magnate, noting all presidential candidates have to answer questions about how much in taxes they have paid in the past and what charitable donations they have made.
“He has a very well-paid accounting team that has all these documents prepared and ready because he filed them in previous years,” Williams said. “Just put them out if there’s nothing there to hide.
Romney, who lost to President Obama 51 percent to 48 percent after an election marked by controversy over his own enormous wealth, has not made an endorsement in the 2012 race.
“He’s made very clear that he wants to see the Republicans take the White House back in November,” Williams said. “I think he’s made clear publicly that he’s disgusted by some of the comments that Donald Trump has made over the course of this campaign with regards to Muslims, with regards to women. Some of the outrageous things he’s said over the course of the campaign. He doesn’t think that Donald Trump is a potential candidate who would be a good nominee that would win in November. I think what he did yesterday was raise an issue that Democrats will eventually bring up — one that they brought up in our campaign which I think the governor would even admit that we did not handle very well, which was the issue of his taxes. The governor didn’t want to release his taxes. We knew we would be open to scrutiny about the effective tax rate. We’ve actually got shamed into doing it, we got hit anyways. It just makes sense to put them out. There’s no reason to hide them. It looks like a character issue if you’re hiding something.”
Williams acknowledged that the Romney campaign was reluctant to accept Trump’s endorsement — made during a glitzy televised event in Las Vegas — during the primary campaign in 2012.
“We tried to keep him at arm’s length during the general election,” Williams said. “It was right around the time he was demanding the president to release his birth certificate. I think there was some concern potentially that we thought that Trump could help us with some base voters — he had some appeal there. We were trying to wrap up the nomination by Florida, which didn’t happen. We thought potentially he would be helpful. There was always this fear in the back of some people’s minds that this guy was so much of a loose cannon he could run third party and not win but draw votes off, so it was better to keep him in the camp than have him run around. But after he endorsed his staff was in frequent contact with the campaign. He seemed to be for whatever reason obsessed with doing robo-calls. He wanted to do robo-calls in targeted states. I’m not sure why that was the demand, I recalled a number of meetings, but at the time we didn’t think it would be that helpful given the birther controversy that he was stirring.”
I’m going to do what @MittRomney was totally unable to do- WIN!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2016
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