Romney calls Trump "a phony"; Trump retaliates

- Former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney said Thursday that the prospects for a safe future are "greatly diminished" if Donald Trump becomes the Republican nominee for president.

Speaking at the University of Utah, Romney warned a packed auditorium that any of the other GOP candidates would be a better alternative to the billionaire businessman.

"The only serious policy proposals that deal with the broad range of national challenges we confront today, come from Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich," Romney said of Trump's GOP rivals. "One of these men should be our nominee."

Romney is charging into the increasingly divisive White House race with a verbal lashing of Donald Trump and a plea for fellow Republicans to shun the front-runner for the good of country and party.

"His is not the temperament of a stable, thoughtful leader. His imagination must not be married to real power," Romney said.

Romney branded Trump as "a phony, a fraud" whose "promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University" in his speech.

"Think of Donald Trump's absurd third grade theatrics. We call him "the Donald." He is the only person in the entire country that we add an article before his name," said Romney.

Later Thursday, Trump, speaking in Maine, called Romney a "failed candidate" who begged him for an endorsement in the 2012 presidential race. "He was begging for my endorsement," Trump said. "I could have said, 'Mitt, drop to your knees.'"

There were rumblings in political spheres that the former governor of Massachusetts would make public information about Trump's tax paying history, but he did not.

Romney had announced the news conference as being focused on the "state of the 2016 presidential race."

A spokesman for Trump says the billionaire real estate mogul will be taking part in the Republican presidential debate hosted by FOX News Thursday at 9 p.m.

Trump, who has had an off-and-on-feud with FOX, is coming off big wins on Super Tuesday.

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