After Mitt Romney laid out his case against Donald Trump in a speech Thursday, the Republican presidential front-runner fired back, as he does, this afternoon.
Trump used his afternoon rally in Portland to recall his 2012 endorsement of Romney and give his own post-mortem diagnosis of the former Massachusetts governor’s presidential campaign.
“I heard Mitt Romney made a fairly long speech,’’ Trump said, to boos from his supporters, adding that 2012 was a race Republicans should have won.
“He was begging for my endorsement,’’ Trump said. “I could’ve said, ‘Mitt, drop to your knees.’ He would have dropped to his knees.’’
For his part, Romney tweeted during the speech that, if Trump had said the same things four years ago he has said during this campaign, he would not have accepted the billionaire’s endorsement.
Romney’s oldest son, Tagg, also tweeted during the speech, mirroring his father’s concerns about the example Trump is setting for future generations.
To supporters at the Westin Portland Harborview hotel, Trump continued to emphasize that Romney should have beaten President Barack Obama in 2012, highlighting the former GOP nominee’s performance in the third 2012 debate and his remarks that 47 percent of the country pay no incomes taxes and believe they are entitled to government benefits.
“He demeaned 47 percent of the people in our country,’’ Trump said Thursday, adding that Romney “disappeared’’ following the remarks.
“Mitt was looking for zoning for a nine-car garage or something in California,’’ Trump said, apparently referring to the Romney family’s plans to renovate their La Jolla home months earlier, which included the installation of a “car elevator’’ in their four-car garage.
Trump credited former presidential candidate Jeb Bush for convincing Romney not to run a third time in 2016.
“See, now that he’s out, I’ll say Jeb’s a good salesman,’’ Trump said. “He’s a high-energy salesman.’’
But the actual reason for Romney’s decision not to run, according to Trump, was Trump.
“I’ll tell you the real reason he chickened out’’ he said. “It wasn’t Jeb. It was me.’’
Trump reiterated past statements that he owns a store worth more than Romney, specifically the Gucci store at his tower in Manhattan, and that the former governor is a “choke artist.’’
Responding to Romney’s criticism of the Trump University — “His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University,’’ Romney said Thursday — Trump said the closed, for-profit school was graded an A by the Better Business Bureau. That claim was correct at one point in time, but the school more recently received a D-minus.
After speculating about their comparative net worth, Trump circled back to a fundraiser he held for Romney in 2012. Though he complemented Romney’s wife, Ann, “a really lovely woman,’’ Trump said many of the donors in attendance told Trump that Romney was “a stiff.’’
Trump said that so many people RSVPed for the fundraiser, they had to hold two consecutive events on the rainy day in Las Vegas four years ago.
“Because everybody’s shoes were so wet, I ruined my carpet.’’ Trump said. “This carpet was wiped out, and nobody thanked me for the carpet. Hey, maybe I can send Mitt a billed for carpet ruined.’’
The crowd cheered.
In concluding, Trump admitted that maybe Romney had a right to turn against him.
“Nobody could have been nastier than me in getting him not to run by saying he’s a choke artist,’’ he said.
But Trump said he had a right for his actions as well, adding that Romney “doesn’t have want it takes to be president.’’
“I love our country too much,’’ he said.