Over the weekend anti-trump Republicans gathered in Utah for the Experts and Enthusiasts summit (E2) aka “Romney Fest ’16,” hosted by 2012 GOP nominee Willard “Mittens” Romney. Romney has been the most visible spokesman for the “Never Trump” movement.

Romney warned that Trump’s rhetoric could lead to ‘trickle-down racism’:


Donald-Trump-CartoonRomney delivered one of his strongest rebukes yet of Trump’s candidacy in an interview with CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer.

Romney warned here Friday that Donald Trump’s election as president could change the nation’s moral character and lead to the normalization of racism, bigotry and misogyny.

“I don’t want to see trickle-down racism,” Romney told Blitzer. “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, trickle-down bigotry, trickle-down misogyny, all these things are extraordinarily dangerous to the heart and character of America.”

Romney, who vowed earlier this spring not to vote for Trump, said he was open to supporting libertarian nominee Gary Johnson.

Romney praised Johnson and his running mate, former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, a former Romney supporter.

“If Bill Weld were at the top of the ticket, it would be very easy for me to vote for Bill Weld for president,” Romney said. “So I’ll get to know Gary Johnson better and see if he’s someone who I could end up voting for. That’s something which I’ll evaluate over the coming weeks and months.”

Of course, Twitter troll Trump fired back at “Mittens.” ‘Trickle-Down Racism’? Trump Fires Back at Romney After Fresh Wave of Attacks:

Trump took to Twitter this morning to respond to Romney’s comments.

Mitt Romney had his chance to beat a failed president but he choked like a dog. Now he calls me racist-but I am least racist person there is.

Yeah, literally no one believes that, not even Trump.

Those in attendance at Romney Fest ’16 were in for some harsh words about Trump.  Paul Ryan grilled at Romney summit, where a CEO compares Trump to Hitler and Mussolini:

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) faced tough questioning here Friday for his decision to endorse Donald Trump, and he tried to explain to an audience hostile to the New York mogul the factors that led him to back the presumptive GOP nominee.

Ryan’s appearance briefly brought into the open the issue that has shadowed the annual ideas summit hosted by 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney — the alarm with which many establishment Republicans view Trump’s pending nomination and the potential damage it could do to the party in November and beyond.

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Campbell Brown, a former CNN anchor and founder of the education news site the74.org, moderated the session with Ryan and grilled him about his decision. She told him that her young son, who knows and admires Ryan, came into the bedroom the morning after he had announced his support for Trump dismayed by the news.

How would you explain this to a child? Brown asked Ryan. The speaker appeared uncomfortable.

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One of the toughest questions for Ryan came from Meg Whitman, the chief executive of Hewlett-Packard and a longtime friend of Romney’s who helped bankroll a Republican anti-Trump super PAC this spring. Whitman asked Ryan how he could endorse someone with, in her judgment, such poor character and whose campaign has been based on personal attacks and division. According to two people present, Whitman said Trump is the latest in a long line of historic demagogues, explicitly comparing him to Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.

Ryan explained the difficult political situation he was in, as the leader of House Republicans. While spending a couple of weeks last month deliberating about an endorsement, many of his members increased pressure on him to back Trump. Many of them represent districts where Republican voters are strongly supportive of Trump, Ryan explained.

The audience was described as largely anti-Trump yet sympathetic to Ryan’s predicament.

Of course, this summit occurred prior to the mass shooting at a gay bar in Orlando, Florida early Sunday morning, and Twitter troll Trump doubled-down on his unconstitutional plan to ban Muslims from immigrating to the U.S. Mitt Romney Loyalists Weigh Trump Support After Utah Retreat:

Mitt Romney loyalists who attended the former Republican nominee’s donor retreat over the weekend —- many of whom spearheaded the “Never Trump” movement —- are facing tough decisions about who to back this cycle.

The roughly 300 business and GOP leaders who attended the annual three-day “Experts and Enthusiasts” summit in Park City, Utah were mostly anti-Trump, said one former Romney aide, with “60 to 70 percent of people here disgusted with the state of the race.”

Summit attendees looking for guidance weren’t given any clear answers, but they did get the chance to hear from both anti-Trump Republicans, like Nebraska senator Ben Sasse, and party leaders who have endorsed Trump, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and party chairman Reince Priebus.

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The summit came as the Trump campaign is being questioned about its capacity to raise enough money to take on the Democratic campaign. Some pro-Trump attendees saw the retreat as an opportunity to win over more donors.

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Of Ryan, who endorsed Trump, Romney said: “I wouldn’t suggest for a minute that he ought to change his position and adopt the one that I’ve taken.”

Still, divisions within the party were on full display this weekend. After Romney said a Trump presidency would lead to “trickle-down racism,” Priebus tweeted that he “couldn’t disagree more” and that “SCOTUS is too important. Stop this and unite.”

Cartoon_61Though there were all sorts of whispers about getting Romney to either write himself in or run as a third party candidate, concrete “Never Trump” action seemed to have died down. Romney, once again, said he was not interested in running himself.

“That’s something I’m not going to be doing,” Romney said in an interview on CNN. “I would like to see someone run, but I think that’s not very likely.”

In an interview, Romney confidante Spencer Zwick added, “There would certainly be enough money and support for a third party candidate, but I think that ship has sailed.”

A lot of donors are instead following Ryan’s lead and turning their energy to the House and Senate races, said longtime Romney confidantes Zwick and Lanhee Chen.

Trump turned to his media supporter Breitbart News (sic) to respond. Trump: Romney should retire and relax:

Instead of sounding off against him as the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee, Donald Trump would rather Mitt Romney ride off into the sunset.

“He lost by a lot and now he goes around having meetings about Donald Trump. He ought to go into retirement and relax because he’s wasting a lot of people’s time,” Trump said Monday on Sirius XM’s “Breitbart News Daily.”

Referring to the terrorist shooting in Orlando, Florida, that claimed 49 lives and wounded 53 others, Trump commented that after such events, Republicans “immediately stop talking about me and my views, ’cause they say, ‘Wow, maybe Trump is right.’”

“And I am right,” he continued. “We have to get very tough and very strong and very vigilant, otherwise we won’t have a country left.”

Many in the GOP do not agree with Trump’s unconstitutional plan to ban Muslims from immigrating to the U.S.  Greg Sargent of the Washington Post writes, Even Republicans agree: Trump failed his first leadership test miserably:

Politico reports this morning that even Republicans think that Trump’s response to the shooting is profoundly problematic. What’s important about this report, though, is that Republicans say that his response was worrisome both in terms of the substance and in terms of the politics.

Republicans tell Politico that Trump failed what is known as the “desk test,” i.e., whether his behavior inspires voters to confidently picture Trump in the Oval Office during a time of crisis. Others worry that Trump’s post-Orlando behavior raises doubts about whether he understands the president’s role. And on the substance, the blowback was even worse:

The proposed ban on Muslim immigrants had already been rejected by Speaker Paul Ryan and the overwhelming majority of Republicans in Congress. But House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said again he wouldn’t support it, and that he had no interest in seeing it get a vote.

“You don’t ban somebody on race [or] religion,” McCarthy said. “I don’t see that coming to the floor.”…

Hill Republicans expressed concern over everything from the tone of Trump’s remarks to their substantive impact.

“I think you have to be a little careful with the rhetoric,” Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said of Trump’s renewed call for a ban on Muslim immigrants. “You don’t want to inflame or help the recruiting efforts.”

That is striking: The Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee wondered aloud whether the GOP standard bearer’s high profile response to a major terrorist attack might actually exacerbate terror recruitment. And the Number Two Republican in the House flatly declared the GOP standard bearer’s main policy proposal on terrorism to be an unacceptable religious test that would never make it to the House floor.

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Indeed, Trump’s speech presents Republicans with something of a fork-in-the-road moment. As Brian Beutler points out, by ratcheting up the demagoguery and xenophobia, Trump revealed that he fully believes, and fully intends to continue campaigning on, precisely the things that had given Republicans grave doubts about his candidacy. If Republicans previously told themselves that Trump could be managed or moderated by getting him to stick to some kind of softer script, they have been violently disabused of that notion. Trump’s actual beliefs can no longer be ignored or wished away: In the midst of a crisis moment — the type of general election crisis moment that tends to reveal what presidential candidates are really made of — Trump explicitly confirmed his full intention to carry out a program that these Republicans profess to find deeply alarming.

And once again, this isn’t simply about the ways in which Trump represents an affront to American values. It’s also about the ways in which his specific proposals could risk further endangering national security, by the lights of the Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. In other words, even some Republicans agree that Trump’s idea of a “strong” response to terrorism could further weaken us.

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None of this even begins to get into whether Republicans can countenance Trump’s insinuation that Obama somehow tacitly sides with terrorists who are trying to kill Americans. And here, too, Republicans will no longer be able to dismiss this as a temporary fancy on Trump’s part, as something that can be addressed by confining Trump to a more (dare we say it) politically correct script. That’s because a Trump spokesperson has now confirmed that this claim is becoming an official argument of the campaign.

Trump’s spokesperson Katrina Pierson, on Fox News last night:

“Something is going on. Even today President Obama refused to even say the words ‘radical Islam.’ Why do we have a president who refuses to say radical Islam? We just had Americans butchered, murdered by radical Islam.This is also a president who has gone out there in public speeches and said civilization owes ‘a debt’ to Islam. What does that mean?”

Now that the Trump campaign is doubling down on this, it makes it more likely that Republicans will be forced to respond to it.

It’s not too late, Republicans. You do not have to jump off the precipice and nominate this dangerous demagogue as your nominee. But time is running short.