Mitt Romney predicts second term for Trump
His remarks marked a sharp reversal from his original impression when he branded the US President ‘a conman’ and ‘a fake’.
Mitt Romney once called Donald Trump “a conman”, but he is now predicting he will “easily” win his party’s presidential nomination in 2020 and “solidly” gain a second term.
Mr Romney, the Republican party’s failed 2012 presidential nominee from Massachusetts, and now a Republican Senate candidate in Utah, made the prediction as he welcomed dozens of high-profile business and political leaders to a mountainside retreat on Thursday night.
As he has every year since 2012, Mr Romney played host to an invitation-only summit focused on the future of American leadership at home and abroad.
The future, he predicted, will feature Mr Trump as America’s leader for at least another six years.
“I think that not just because of the strong economy and the fact that people are going to see increasingly rising wages,” he said, “but I think it’s also true because I think our Democrat friends are likely to nominate someone who is really out of the mainstream of American thought and will make it easier for a president who’s presiding over a growing economy.”
Mr Romney’s remarks marked a sharp reversal from his original impression of Mr Trump.
He briefly served as the face of the so-called “Never Trump” movement before the 2016 election, and delivered a scathing speech in Utah calling Mr Trump “a conman” and “a fake”.
Yet Mr Romney’s criticism has softened since then. And now, in the midst of a Republican Senate primary campaign, the former Massachusetts governor appears to be embracing Mr Trump and his leadership role in the modern-day Republican party.
He delivered the remarks on the first day of a three-day, closed-door summit in Utah’s mountains. The Associated Press was allowed to listen to Mr Romney’s remarks during the event’s opening reception.
Dignitaries on the guest list feature included House Speaker Paul Ryan, billionaire former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Colorado Senator Cory Gardner in addition to actor Seth Rogin, former Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz and former Domino’s Pizza boss Patrick Doyle.
While there were many Trump sceptics in the crowd, a handful of Trump loyalists were also in attendance, including short-lived White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci and Blackrock chief Stephen Schwarzman.
It will not be all business.
Guests will have an opportunity to go skeet shooting with Mr Ryan or hiking with Mr Romney.
“I’m looking forward to an unusual and packed couple of days here,” said Mr Romney, suggesting he would have little more to say about politics. “Campaigns are off limits.”