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Romney’s Anti-Trump Speech Ignites Social Media Debate

Campaign 2016 Politics Reuters Top News

Romney’s Anti-Trump Speech Ignites Social Media Debate


By Amy Tennery

NEW YORK (Reuters) – If Mitt Romney wanted to ignite a debate about Donald Trump’s suitability for the White House, he succeeded, at least on social media.

Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, lambasted Trump in a speech on Thursday in Salt Lake City, Utah, calling him “a phony, a fraud” and saying it is his “very brand of anger that has led other nations into the abyss.”

The speech was the latest illustration of how badly many mainstream Republican leaders want to stop Trump, the clear front-runner, from becoming his party’s nominee in November’s election to succeed President Barack Obama.

Twitter users posted about Romney roughly 38 times per second following the speech, according to Zoomph, the social media analytics firm. Romney’s sentiment score, a measure of how positively users discuss a topic, was slightly higher than Trump’s following the speech, according to the firm.

“Mitt Romney” quickly became one of the top-trending topics on Twitter in the United States. In a period of about four hours after the former Massachusetts governor’s speech, there were roughly 529,000 tweets about Romney on Twitter, according to the social media site’s own metrics.

Trump’s response, a barrage of put-downs, also generated social media attention. During a campaign rally in Maine, Trump said Romney had begged him for an endorsement when he was running for the White House in 2012. Trump’s comments included what many on social media perceived to be a crude sexual joke.

“I could have said ‘Mitt, drop to your knees,’ he would have dropped to his knees,” Trump said.

“Is this a new @realDonaldTrump campaign slogan? ‘Drop to Your Knees, America … and they did,'” tweeted Carl Spry (@CarlSpry). “His secret to getting so many endorsements?”.

Romney said later he would not have accepted Trump’s endorsement four years ago if Trump had spoken as he does now.

“If Trump had said 4 years ago the things he says today about the KKK, Muslims, Mexicans, disabled, I would NOT have accepted his endorsement,” Romney tweeted (@MittRomney), referring to the white supremacist group the Ku Klux Klan.

In his speech slamming both Trump’s policy proposals and his style, Romney did not endorse any of the candidates remaining in the Republican race.

But one of them, Ohio Governor John Kasich (@JohnKasich), tweeted his support, saying “Well said, @MittRomney.” A photo of the presidential Oval Office accompanied the tweet, with the caption “The One Who Works Here Should Make Us Proud.”

Other presidential candidates remained quiet on Twitter, but Republican South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley offered her support for Romney.

“A brilliant speech by @MittRomney. No one can ever question his love for our party and our country. #TrueLeadership #MittRomney,” she (@nikkihaley) tweeted.

Haley has endorsed Marco Rubio, a U.S. senator from Florida, for the Republican nomination.

(Additional reporting by Gina Cherelus and Melissa Fares in New York; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Frances Kerry)

Photo: Mitt Romney speaks critically about Donald Trump at the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah, March 3, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart



  1. TZToronto March 3, 2016

    Romney’s speech this morning said what so many people have not had the guts to say. Perhaps the other GOP candidates have tried to say these things during the debates but we’re drowned out by Trump’s bloviating. On the other hand, probably not. Trump will need a VP, and the others candidates don’t want to hurt their chances to get onto the ticket by insulting Trump too vociferously. Now here we have an interesting situation. Romney looks like a statesman when compared to any of the other candidates, and he’d actually have a chance to win in November–if he were running. I’m sure the GOP establishment would prefer Mittens to Trump, by a wide margin, and probably to Cruz and Rubio, too. So how do they arrange the primary process to enable the convention to draft Romney? And if they manage that feat, they run the real risk of Trump running as an independent and losing the Presidency to Hillary and, most likely, the Senate, too. Romney, of course, had to repeat the party line that Hillary is untrustworthy by virtue of getting paid for speeches she gives and some very dubious and vague other assertions, but that won’t pry away too many Democratic votes. Really, the GOP is in a very precarious place, and Trump is probably very willing to give them a little push

    1. Independent1 March 3, 2016

      Yes! Let’s hope he’s successful at pushing them over the edge to oblivion.

  2. ray March 3, 2016

    Flip flop Romney is at it again.

  3. Grannysmovin March 4, 2016

    None of this is intended as a defense of Trump it is to show another example of the Hypocrisy of Republican leaders and/ or spokesman:

    1. Romney said Thursday that Trump’s business practices “crushed small businesses and the men and women who worked for them.” Romney must have forgotten about Bain Capital.

    2. Romney said about Trump, “He inherited his business, he didn’t create it.” Again Romney seems to have forgotten his own inheritance.

    3. Romney said: “If Donald Trump’s plans were ever implemented, the country would sink into a prolonged recession.” But just four short years ago Romney claimed, “Donald Trump has shown an extraordinary ability to understand how our economy works, to create jobs for the American people.” What’s changed?

    4. Romney criticized “Trump University” for its dubious business practices, but seemed to have forgotten his own issues with predatory for-profit schools? Romney’s “private equity empire is financially linked to Full Sail.”

    5. Romney criticized Trump over his support “for the use of torture.” Perhaps again Romney has forgotten he took a similar position four years ago.

    6. Romney said via Twitter on Thursday he wouldn’t have accepted Trump’s endorsement in 2012 if he’d used ugly rhetoric at the time about the KKK, Muslims, Mexicans, and the disabled. However Romney was very comfortable embracing 47% comments, terms like lazy,free stuff, dependent, supporters carrying signs and wearing clothing with racially charged comments on them, getting support from the “birther” king and even joking about it himself. Where was Romney’s outrage over the “empty chair” skit at the conference or the repeated hanging in effigy of Obama, or the bullet ridden outhouse parked outside a Republican Campaign event called Obama Library. Not once did Romney denounce this type of racially charged behavior.

    1. The lucky one March 4, 2016

      All true and yet wouldn’t you take Romney over Trump? Stepping in dog doo is preferable to being buried in it. Not all conservatives and republicans are stupid enough to vote for Trump. Those who can’t stomach voting for HRC, I’ll be gagging when I do it if she is the candidate, will abstain.

      1. Grannysmovin March 4, 2016

        Good question – not sure.

  4. FT66 March 4, 2016

    Romney acted as if he came out of a dream without thinking first and grabbed the microphone. You don’t go and insult a candidate who is a front-runner and who millions have used their time, energy, thoughts and go and vote for him. That is not a winning strategy. Why didn’t he and other party leaders sit down together with Trump and discuss without causing all chaos? How can the party win by eliminating Trump and his supporters? Is there any logic in this?

    1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth March 4, 2016

      No, there is no logic in his indiscretion. But then again, logic if anathema, for the Right Wing at least.


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