(AP) – Former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney is charging into the increasingly divisive White House race with a verbal lashing of Donald Trump and a plea for fellow Republicans to shun the front-runner for the good of country and party.Romney will brand the billionaire businessman as “a phony, a fraud” whose “promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University” in a speech Thursday morning at the University of Utah on Thursday morning. The Associated Press obtained excerpts of his remarks in advance.
Trump, in turn, dismissed Romney as “a stiff” who “didn’t know what he was doing” as the party’s candidate in 2012 and blew a chance to beat President Barack Obama. “People are energized by what I’m saying” in the campaign and turning out in remarkable numbers to vote, Trump told NBC’s “Today.”
In ratcheting up the rhetoric, Romney cast his lot with a growing chorus of anxious Republican leaders – people many Trump supporters view as establishment figures – in trying to slow the New York real estate mogul’s momentum.
“Here’s what I know: Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud,” the former Massachusetts governor said, according to the early excerpts.