Donald Trump hasn't 'risen to the mantle' of presidency, says incoming Utah Senator Mitt Romney

Washington: Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012, has slammed US president Donald Trump, saying his conduct over the past two years, particularly his recent actions, is "evidence that he has not risen to the mantle of the office".

Romney, 71, who was elected as a Republican Senator from Utah in November, will be sworn in on Thursday.

 Donald Trump hasnt risen to the mantle of presidency, says incoming Utah Senator Mitt Romney

File image of Mitt Romney. AP

"The Trump presidency made a deep descent in December... on balance, his conduct over the past two years, particularly his actions this month, is evidence that the president has not risen to the mantle of the office," Romney said in an op-ed published in the Washington Post on Tuesday.

His strong-hitting op-ed gains significance that he is unlikely to follow White House position on critical issues given that the ruling party has 53 seats in a 100-member Senate. On some critical issues, Trump would require 60 votes to get his legislative agenda passed.

Trump, however, sounded conciliatory, calling for Romney to be a "team player".

"Here we go with Mitt Romney, but so fast! Question will be, is he a Flake? I hope not. Would much prefer that Mitt focus on Border Security and so many other things where he can be helpful. I won big, and he didn't. He should be happy for all Republicans. Be a TEAM player & WIN! (sic)" Trump tweeted on Wednesday.

Romney, notably enough, during the Republican presidential primaries in 2016, had described Trump as a con man and accused him as a fraud.

"There's plenty of evidence that Mr Trump is a con man, a fake. Mr Trump has changed his positions not just over the years, but over the course of the campaign," Romney said in his speech at the Hinckley Institute on 3 March, 2016.

"Here's what I know. Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University," Romney had said and warned his party colleagues that Trump, if nominated as the Republican nominee, would never be able to defeat the then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

However, Trump went ahead to earn the Republican presidential nomination by overcoming the challenge from 16 others and surprised political pundits by defeating favourite Clinton in the November 2016 presidential elections.

After Trump's electoral victory, the two leaders met over dinner in New York.

The then media reports said that Trump considered him for the position of Secretary of State. However, later Trump gave the position to Rex Tillerson.

Romney, who is known for being a successful governor of Massachusetts, two years later decided to run for the US Senate from Utah.

He won with an impressive margin in the November elections. In the weeks thereafter, he has increased his attack on Trump.

In his op-ed, Romney said that Trump cannot take his support for granted.

"I will act as I would with any president, in or out of my party: I will support policies that I believe are in the best interest of the country and my state, and oppose those that are not," he said.

He said that he would speak out against significant statements or actions that are divisive, racist and anti-immigrant.

"I do not intend to comment on every tweet or fault. But I will speak out against significant statements or actions that are divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest or destructive to democratic institutions," he wrote.

Observing that to a great degree, a presidency shapes the public character of the nation, he said a president should "unite us and inspire us to follow our better angels".

He said that a president should demonstrate the essential qualities of honesty and integrity, and elevate the national discourse with comity and mutual respect.

"As a nation, we have been blessed with presidents who have called on the greatness of the American spirit. With the nation so divided, resentful and angry, presidential leadership in qualities of character is indispensable. And it is in this province where the incumbent's shortfall has been most glaring," Romney added.

Noting that the world is also watching, Romney rued that several allies in Europe are experiencing political upheaval.

"Several former Soviet satellite states are rethinking their commitment to democracy. Some Asian nations, such as the Philippines, lean increasingly toward China, which advances to rival our economy and our military," he said.

"The alternative to US world leadership offered by China and Russia is autocratic, corrupt and brutal," Romney wrote.

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Updated Date: Jan 02, 2019 23:50:45 IST