President Trump fired back Wednesday to an op-ed written by Sen.-elect Mitt Romney (R-Utah), recommending the failed presidential candidate be more supportive of his policies.
“I won big and he didn’t,” Trump declared on Twitter. He should be happy for all Republicans. Be a TEAM player & WIN!”
Referencing Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a frequent Trump critic who did not run for reelection last year, the president questioned whether Romney will be “a Flake,” and called on Romney to more productively focus on border security.
“Here we go with Mitt Romney, but so fast! Question will be, is he a Flake? I hope not,” he wrote Wednesday morning. “Would much prefer that Mitt focus on Border Security and so many other things where he can be helpful.”
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2019
The president’s tweet came hours after Romney, perhaps with thoughts of a presidential comeback, issued a scathing attack of his character, leadership, and policies in a Washington Post op-ed.
Romney had written:
It is well known that Donald Trump was not my choice for the Republican presidential nomination. After he became the nominee, I hoped his campaign would refrain from resentment and name-calling. It did not. When he won the election, I hoped he would rise to the occasion. His early appointments of Rex Tillerson, Jeff Sessions, Nikki Haley, Gary Cohn, H.R. McMaster, Kelly, and Mattis were encouraging. But, 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
Despite his relentless efforts in 2016 to stop Trump from becoming president, Romney denied during his 2018 Senate run that he lead the “Never Trump” movement among Republicans. The former Massachusetts governor sought, and accepted, Trump’s endorsement for Senate in 2018.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 20, 2018
Thank you Mr. President for the support. I hope that over the course of the campaign I also earn the support and endorsement of the people of Utah.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) February 20, 2018
Romney has a history of double-crossing Trump, often after pursuing and receiving his assistance.
As Breitbart News points out:
February 2012: Romney seeks, and receives, Trump’s endorsement in the Republican presidential primary, beating several other contenders who wanted the billionaire’s backing. The Romney campaign proudly touted Trump’s nod. CBS News reported at the time, “Romney’s campaign formally unveiled the endorsement at an event in Las Vegas.”
March 2016: Romney delivers a speech in Utah devoted entirely to trashing Trump: “Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing the members of the American public for suckers. He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat.” However, with the primary still undecided, Romney declined to support any of Trump’s rivals, meaning the speech amounted to little more than abuse. (Some of those present at the time speculated Romney was laying the foundation for a political comeback.)
November 2016: Romney, humbled by Trump’s victory, offers to join President-elect Trump’s cabinet, and seeks the job of Secretary of State. After meetings at Trump Tower, Romney fails to win the job — but issues a statement praising Trump and thanking him for the opportunity: “It was an honor to have been considered for Secretary of State of our great country. My discussions with President-elect Trump have been both enjoyable and enlightening. I have very high hopes that the new administration will lead the nation to greater strength, prosperity and peace.”
February 2018: Romney receives Trump’s endorsement in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate in Utah and accepts it — despite having declared in 2016 he would not have accepted Trump’s endorsement if given the choice again.
January 2019: Romney publishes an anti-Trump op-ed in an anti-Trump newspaper on the first day of the new year — declaring, without irony: “A president should demonstrate the essential qualities of honesty and integrity.”