The GOP's 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney is boycotting the convention at which 2016 presumptive standard-bearer Donald Trump will be chosen — a candidate whom Romney has labeled a "phony" and "fraud," reports say.
At a gala in Washington on Thursday night, the former Massachusetts governor said he is "dismayed at where we are now," decrying "way too much demagoguery and populism on both sides of the aisle," and said he wishes Americans will "see more greatness," the Washington Examiner
He added he won't be taking a shot at the nomination himself.
"I think it happens to be an inflection point in our history as we go through this dramatic change economically and militarily, socially, all those things … And I happen to think that the person who is leading the nation has an enormous and disproportionate impact on the course of the world, so I am dismayed at where we are now, I wish we had better choices, and I keep hoping that somehow things will get better, and I just don't see an easy answer from where we are," Romney said, the Examiner reports.
But he lavishly praised House Speaker Paul Ryan
— whose own declaration earlier Thursday that he wasn't yet endorsing Trump sent shockwaves through the GOP.
"He's got all these people working together, and it's absolutely remarkable," Romney said.
"And he is where he needs to be. I'd love to see him run for president, but having a speaker of the House, at this stage, where we don't know what's going to happen on the presidential race, having a speaker of the House with that kind of leadership capacity is very encouraging. I have hopes that he'll remain speaker."
Romney rattled the GOP in early March by making a high-profile speech that denounced Trump
, then the front-runner in a race that began with 16 contenders.
He even told the Boston Globe
he wouldn't vote for Trump even if he won the GOP nomination.
With Romney's boycott, he joins the only two living Republican presidents — George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush
— who also declared this week they'll be sitting out the July Republican National Convention.
Sen. John McCain
, the 2008 GOP nominee who is in a vigorous reelection fight in Arizona, is also planning to skip the convention.
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