On March 3, 2016, Republican Mitt Romney, the previous GOP nominee for president, delivered his biggest speech in years at the University of Utah.
“Let me put it plainly,” he declared. “If we Republicans choose Donald Trump as our nominee, the prospects for a safe and prosperous future are greatly diminished.”
Other warnings from Romney: Trump’s economic plans would be bad for America; insulting all Muslims would prove counter-productive; he’s a “con man,” a “fraud” and a “phony.”
“Think of Donald Trump’s personal qualities, the bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third-grade theatrics,” Romney said. “Now imagine your children and your grandchildren acting the way he does.
“Will you welcome that?”
On Romney went, shouting down a well and failing to slow the Trump train even a bit on its voyage to destiny.
Next day Trump stood before one of his rallies in Michigan and, true to form, sneered at “Stupid Mitt,” calling the ex-candidate a “dumb guy,” who “choked” in the race against President Barack Obama in 2012.
If either man had any shame, all this acrid history might hinder them from blowing each other kisses with the now-mutual goal of getting Romney elected to the U.S. Senate.
But on Tuesday night, Trump tweeted:
“@MittRomney has announced he is running for the Senate from the wonderful State of Utah. He will make a great Senator and worthy successor to @OrrinHatch, and has my full support and endorsement!”
Romney smooched back, a little: “Thank you Mr. President for the support. I hope that over the course of the campaign I also earn the support and endorsement of the people of Utah.”
At a recent Republican conclave, Trump said Hatch “actually once said I’m the greatest president in the history of our country.”
Actually, Hatch said he didn’t say that, but that’s an aside.
Only two months ago, Trump’s self-described “wing man,” Steve Bannon, who had headed the president’s campaign, attacked Romney during a rally for the doomed, Trump-endorsed Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.
“You hid behind your religion,” Bannon said at a Moore rally, referring to Romney’s Mormon faith. “You went to France to be a missionary while guys were dying in rice paddies in Vietnam.”
It is easy to see why Trump would back Romney. The president clearly needs the Senate to be in Republican hands, and that majority is very slim right now.
But with or without the president’s support, Romney is a heavy favorite to win the seat. Maybe this is an opening for Trump to claim credit next November.
Or perhaps Trump is mending fences with his former nemesis for fear of having a prestigious anti-Trump voice in the powerful GOP caucus, which crafts legislation and budgets to which the president attaches his name.
By all accounts Romney didn’t mention Trump when he announced for the Senate last week. And last month, Romney expressed opposition to the president’s notorious reference to “shithole” countries.
“The poverty of an aspiring immigrant’s nation of origin is as irrelevant as their race,” Romney said. “The sentiment attributed to POTUS is inconsistent with America’s history and antithetical to American values.”
This could be the beginning of a hilarious “friendship.”