Utah Sen. Mitt Romney said Friday that he’s not sure if he will endorse President Donald Trump for a second term and that he may not throw his weight behind anyone during the 2020 campaign.
“I don’t think endorsements are worth a thimble of spit,” the Republican former presidential candidate told reporters during an annual gathering of political leaders, wealthy donors and powerful businesspeople in the Utah ski-resort town of Park City. “I wouldn’t be surprised if I stay out of the endorsements.”
Romney wrote in the name of his wife, Ann, on his 2016 ballot and said Tuesday, “I still think she’s doing a fine job.”
The senator said it’s still too early for endorsements but repeated his view that Trump will likely win re-election in 2020 as an incumbent presiding over a strong economy, though “it’s not a sure thing.”
Romney has been one of the president’s fiercest GOP critics at times, though he’s also supported Trump on other issues. The president endorsed Romney’s Senate run.
Romney said he opposed Trump’s proposal to impose tariffs on Mexico to force the U.S. ally to stem the flow of migrants.
Trump had set a Monday deadline to impose the tariffs but the U.S and Mexico reached a deal Friday avert them. Many Republicans and businesses had urged Trump to reconsider the plan, which could have enormous economic implications for both countries.
Romney agreed, saying Mexico is a friend to the U.S.
“Punishing Mexico in some way is, in my opinion, a very bad idea. It’s also expensive for Americans,” Romney said.
The former Massachusetts governor does support the use of tariffs on China, saying it has been abusing global free-trade rules.
“President Trump was right to push back hard on China, and I support that effort,” he said.
But he said he would have gathered a coalition of allies to present a united front to the world’s most populous nation. Romney warned against underestimating China, saying it’s an increasingly innovative on technologies like artificial intelligence.
“I don’t think there’s much recognition in the United States about the long-term issues with China,” he said during a speech at the E2 Summit, founded six years ago and now chaired by former U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan. “We haven’t laid out a real comprehensive strategy to say, ‘How do we up our game dramatically?’”