Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, sympathized with supporters of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders as he gave off-the-cuff remarks about the 2016 race.
“We’re just mad as hell and won’t take it anymore,” he said of the electorate on Tuesday, per The Washington Post.
“The failure of current political leaders to actually tackle major challenges, or to try at least, or to go out with proposals,” he added, speaking at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts.
Romney said he shared feelings with many Americans who feel betrayed by their government. The former presidential candidate discussed poverty, climate change, income inequality, and education as some of the biggest problems facing the nation.
“Think for a moment about the major challenges you believe this country faces and tick them off in your mind and ask, ‘Are we making any real progress on any of them?’ Romney said.
He later added: “Certainly part of what is behind the energy and the passion for Donald Trump on the Republican side and Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side is the frustration and anger people feel in this country.”
Trump, the GOP frontrunner, just won his third-consecutive state on Tuesday with his victory in the Nevada caucuses. Sanders, a Vermont senator, has beaten Democratic frontrunner and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire and finished closely behind her in Iowa and Nevada.
“[Their success is a] projection on them by the American public that they’re at least going to do something,” Romney said. “They’re going to make something happen.”
Romney argued that lack of progress on reining in the national debt and entitlement programs had Republican voters fuming. He also said that lack of progress on climate change and poverty had Democrats up in arms.
The former Massachusetts governor has yet to endorse a candidate in the 2016 race. It was reported that after former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush dropped out last Saturday, Romney would endorse Marco Rubio, a Florida senator. But Rubio’s campaign called the reports unfounded.
At his Tuesday event, Romney also said that if both Sanders and Trump win their party nominations, he expected to see former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg jump into the race as a centrist alternative.
“He’d probably be getting in,” Romney said of the scenario. “I think he would recognise that there is a chance for a centrist candidate.”
In September, Romney said he didn’t think Trump would be his party’s nominee.
“I will support the Republican nominee,” he said. “I don’t think that’s going to be Donald Trump.”
Trump has repeatedly criticised Romney for losing the 2012 election to President Barack Obama despite the incumbent’s record. Trump has even suggested that he would have won the White House that year had he been the nominee instead of Romney.
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