Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, lambasted Trump
in a speech on Thursday in Salt Lake City, Utah, calling him "a
phony, a fraud" and saying it is his "very brand of anger that has
led other nations into the abyss."
The speech was the latest illustration of how badly many mainstream
Republican leaders want to stop Trump, the clear front-runner, from
becoming his party's nominee in November's election to succeed
President Barack Obama.
Twitter users posted about Romney roughly 38 times per second
following the speech, according to Zoomph, the social media
analytics firm. Romney's sentiment score, a measure of how
positively users discuss a topic, was slightly higher than Trump's
following the speech, according to the firm.
"Mitt Romney" quickly became one of the top-trending topics on
Twitter in the United States. In a period of about four hours after
the former Massachusetts governor's speech, there were roughly
529,000 tweets about Romney on Twitter, according to the social
media site’s own metrics.
Trump's response, a barrage of put-downs, also generated social
media attention. During a campaign rally in Maine, Trump said Romney
had begged him for an endorsement when he was running for the White
House in 2012. Trump's comments included what many on social media
perceived to be a crude sexual joke.
"I could have said 'Mitt, drop to your knees,' he would have dropped
to his knees," Trump said.
"Is this a new @realDonaldTrump campaign slogan? 'Drop to Your
Knees, America ... and they did,'" tweeted Carl Spry (@CarlSpry).
"His secret to getting so many endorsements?".
Romney said later he would not have accepted Trump's endorsement
four years ago if Trump had spoken as he does now.
"If Trump had said 4 years ago the things he says today about the
KKK, Muslims, Mexicans, disabled, I would NOT have accepted his
endorsement," Romney tweeted (@MittRomney), referring to the white
supremacist group the Ku Klux Klan.
[to top of second column]
In his speech slamming both Trump's policy proposals and his style,
Romney did not endorse any of the candidates remaining in the
But one of them, Ohio Governor John Kasich (@JohnKasich), tweeted
his support, saying "Well said, @MittRomney." A photo of the
presidential Oval Office accompanied the tweet, with the caption
"The One Who Works Here Should Make Us Proud."
Other presidential candidates remained quiet on Twitter, but
Republican South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley offered her support
"A brilliant speech by @MittRomney. No one can ever question his
love for our party and our country. #TrueLeadership #MittRomney,"
she (@nikkihaley) tweeted.
Haley has endorsed Marco Rubio, a U.S. senator from Florida, for the
(Additional reporting by Gina Cherelus and Melissa Fares in New
York; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Frances Kerry)
[© 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2016 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.