In a Monday Wall Street Journal op-ed, Republican Senator from Utah and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney called on GOP donors to team up to force “lost-cause” candidates out of the 2024 Republican primary and to back the candidate with the best chance of beating former President Donald Trump.
Sen. Romney is a longtime opponent of Trump — in March of 2016 Romney gave a speech at the University of Utah in which he denounced then-2016 primary front-runner Donald Trump, calling him a “phony” and “con man.”
Romney called on voters to support whichever candidate out of Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Marco Rubio, or former Ohio Gov. John Kasich had the best chance to beat Trump in any given state.
At the time, a former senior advisor to the 2012 Romney presidential campaign said it was a mistake for Romney to omit that he had sought for and received an endorsement from Trump in 2012. Accepting that endorsement at a Las Vegas event, Romney heaped praise on Trump’s capitalist instincts and business acumen, videotaped remarks that undermined his anti-Trump turn four years later.
In the op-ed, entitled “Donors, Don’t Fund a Trump Plurality,” Romney details a plan for Republican megadonors and influencers to prevent “no-hope candidates” from handing former President Donald Trump primary victories by splitting the non-Trump vote.
“Donors who are backing someone with a slim chance of winning should seek a commitment from the candidate to drop out and endorse the person with the best chance of defeating Mr. Trump by Feb. 26,” Romney wrote in the op-ed.
Feb. 26 is the Monday following the contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, at which point Romney suggests donors push losing candidates out of the race so that they do not “overstay their prospects.”
Romney argues that the only way for any of the 2024 Republican primary candidates to have a chance at stopping “Donald Trump’s apparent inevitability” is for the field to narrow to a two-person race before Trump “has the nomination sewn up.”
In his op-ed, Romney outlines the history of candidates conceding to consolidate the field in order to achieve “what they saw as a greater purpose.”
“In 1968, potential candidates William Scranton, Charles H. Percy, Mark Hatfield, John Chafee and Nelson Rockefeller rallied around my father, George W. Romney, instead of seeking nomination themselves, because they believed he had the best shot of stopping Richard Nixon,” Romney wrote.
“When my dad’s campaign faltered, he and they swung to Rockefeller to carry their cause forward. They were unsuccessful but not because of blind political ambition or vanity. They put a common cause above personal incentives,” he wrote.
“Our party and our country need a nominee with character, driven by something greater than revenge and ego, preferably from the next generation. Family, friends and campaign donors are the only people who can get a lost-cause candidate to exit the race,” Romney added. “After Feb. 26, they should start doing just that.”
Here’s the video of Romney praising Trump in 2012: