The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Romney warns Trump’s rhetoric could lead to ‘trickle-down racism’

Mitt Romney (Rick Bowmer/AP)

PARK CITY, Utah — Mitt 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.

Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee who has been the most vocal leader of the “Never Trump” movement, delivered one of his strongest rebukes yet of Trump’s candidacy in an interview with CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer.

“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. After working to recruit an independent conservative challenger to Trump, Romney conceded to Blitzer that there was no such credible candidate.

But 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.”

Romney made his comments to Blitzer during the annual ideas fest he hosts in Park City, where Blitzer is one of handful of journalists participating as official presenters or speakers.