Mitt Romney said Friday that he had "no intention" of mounting a challenge to Donald Trump, that he would not vote for neither Trump nor Democrat Hillary Clinton — and that the presumptive Republican nominee was someone who could inspire "trickle-down racism."
"I don't think there's anything I am looking for from Mr. Trump to give him my support," Romney, 69, told Wolf Blitzer on CNN.
"He's demonstrated who he is.
"I decided that a person of that nature should not be the one who, if you will, becomes the example for coming generations or the example of Americans of the world.
"I don't want to see trickle-down racism," he said. "I don't want to see a president of the United States saying things which change the character of the generations of Americans that are following.
"Presidents have an impact on the nature of our nation — and trickle-down racism and bigotry, trickle-down misogyny, all these things are extraordinarily dangerous to the heart and character of America.
"I'm not looking for Mr. Trump to change a policy that more aligns with my own," Romney told Blitzer. "This is not a matter of just policy. It is a matter of character and integrity."
The interview, from Romney's Utah E2 Summit in Deer Valley, marks some of the former Massachusetts governor's strongest comments yet about Trump.
In March, Romney blasted Trump
as a fraud who is playing the American public for suckers — and charged last month that the billionaire's refusal to release his taxes disqualifies him from the seeking the White House.
Trump has come under blistering fire for his comments bashing the Mexican heritage of U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is presiding over the Trump University civil case in San Diego.
Romney told Blitzer Friday that he would not mount a third-party challenge because of the inability to receive the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.
"The only way to win the White House is to become a nominee of either the Republican or Democratic Party — and simply running to be a spoiler would not give the American people the chance to express their own views about Mr. Trump or about Secretary Clinton," he said.
For him, "I'll be writing in someone else's name, probably another Republican," Romney said. Romney added later that he would examine the platform of Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.
"For me, this is a question of my own integrity and character. If there's someone that was an anti-Semite, for instance, and they had all of the same positions I had and were running for president, I simply could not vote for them.
"I could not bring myself to do that," Romney said.
He did not attack other Republicans — including House Speaker Paul Ryan, his 2012 running mate — for endorsing Trump, saying that "I am not going to argue with them about their choice.
"I wish every Republican who supported Mr. Trump said 'I made a mistake, let's go a different direction,' but that's not going to happen," he added. "The people have spoken and we're going to have Donald Trump as the Republican nominee."
Romney threw cold water on the idea of a contested Republican National Convention in Cleveland next month, though "I sympathize with people that say we would love to see a different nominee of our party than Donald Trump.
"I happen to subscribe to that point of view, but I think changing the rules — denying him the nomination at this point — is not likely to happen."
The former governor said that he was "disappointed" and "troubled" that Trump has received so many votes — even despite his attacks — and blasted his 17 rivals for not taking him on sooner in the primary process.
Those challengers finally took Trump "very late in the process," Romney told Blitzer. "They said 'as long as I am going down, might as well take a parting shot.'
"In terms of leading contenders from the beginning going after Mr. Trump, they didn't do that."
He noted that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush had a super PAC "of over $100 million and focused their fire on Marco Rubio and others, as opposed to the front-runner.
"He hasn't had that kind of exposure to the combat of politics like you will in the general election."
Still, Romney said he did not regret signing on for another run.
"I thought it was time for someone new."
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