Mitt Romney likened Donald Trump to a “gargoyle” hovering over the Republican Party that can scare off potential voters, while criticism mounts of the former president’s meeting with Kanye West and Nick Fuentes.
The Utah senator said Monday it was “disgusting” to have dinner with people who hold racist and anti-Semitic views. He said he “voted twice” to remove him from office because “anyone else” would be a better leader for Republicans.
“I don’t think he should be President of the United States. I don’t think he should be our party’s nominee in 2024,” Romney said. “And I certainly don’t want him hanging like a gargoyle over our party.”
“There is no end to the extent to which he is willing to humiliate himself and the country on this issue,” said the 2012 Republican presidential nominee.
“It was disgusting to have dinner with these people.”
The former president has faced fresh attacks from Republican party leaders since West, who officially changed his name to Ye, announced he was meeting with Mr Trump at his Mar-a-Lago residence alongside white supremacist Mr Fuentes Has.
Mr Trump’s former Vice President Mike Pence urged him to apologize to Americans for including the two individuals with a history of anti-Semitic views.
“President Trump wrongly gave a seat at the table to a white nationalist, an anti-Semite and a Holocaust denier — and I think he should apologize,” he said in an interview with NewsNation.
While Ye claimed Mr Trump was impressed by Mr Fuentes, the former president clapped back on Friday, saying the rapper “showed up unexpectedly with three of his friends I didn’t know about”.
Mr Trump’s clarification that he did not know Mr Fuentes has not appeased criticism of him.
“Ridiculous. That’s all I have to say,” said Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, a member of the Republican Senate leadership.
“I have no idea what’s going on. But again, it’s really ridiculous that he would do that.”
The Grammy-winning rapper, who has set his sights on running for president again in 2024, said he asked Mr Trump to be his running mate during dinner.
The rapper lost several business relationships over anti-Semitic comments on Twitter and subsequently saw his fortune plummet overnight.
He was suspended from the social media platform after saying he would commit “death contamination 3 (sic) against JEWISH PEOPLE,” prompting a backlash from the Jewish community.
He had visited Mr Trump’s residence with Mr Fuentes, one of the country’s most prominent white supremacists and a well-known Holocaust denier.
In a statement on Friday, Mr Trump said: “Kanye West was keen to visit Mar-a-Lago. Our dinner meeting was supposed to be just for Kanye and I, but it came with a guest I had never met and knew nothing about.”
He added that the dinner “was held on the back patio with many members present. Dinner was quick and uneventful. Then they went to the airport.”