Mitt Romney backs Ted Cruz in battle against 'Trumpism'
Published 19/03/2016 | 00:41
Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has said he will vote for Ted Cruz in the upcoming caucuses in his home state of Utah, intensifying his attack against frontrunner Donald Trump.
"There is a contest between Trumpism and Republicanism," Mr Romney wrote on his official Facebook page.
"Through the calculated statements of its leader, Trumpism has become associated with racism, misogyny, bigotry, xenophobia, vulgarity and, most recently, threats and violence. I am repulsed by each and every one of these."
Responding on Twitter, Mr Trump noted that Mr Romney had previously supported the candidacies of Ohio governor John Kasich and Florida senator Marco Rubio, adding: "Mitt Romney is a mixed up man who doesn't have a clue. No wonder he lost!"
At a rally in Salt Lake City, Mr Trump jokingly questioned Mr Romney's faith.
"Are you sure he's a Mormon? Are we sure?" he asked his crowd at the Infinity Event Centre.
He also stressed his own connection to Mormons, saying he has employed many who follow the religion, including some who asked him to "make the payment directly to the church".
"Do I love the Mormons?" he asked. "They're amazing people."
As the rally was going on, hundreds of anti-Trump protesters gathered on the street outside, which was closed off by police in riot gear.
Mr Romney delivered a scathing attack on Mr Trump in a speech at the University of Utah earlier this month, calling him "a phony" who is "playing the American public for suckers".
A number of Republican officials have shown their support for Mr Cruz in recent days while falling short of endorsing the Texas senator, who is in second place in the race for the Republican nomination.
Utah is one of four contests scheduled for Tuesday. Early polling shows Mr Cruz leading among the state's predominantly Mormon voters.
Mr Trump currently leads his rivals overall, having won 678 delegates in contests so far. Mr Cruz is in second place with 423 delegates, and Mr Kasich is third with 143.
Candidates need 1,237 to win.