Mitt Romney is calling on President Donald Trump to apologize for his recent statements about the race-fueled violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, declaring it a defining moment for Trump’s presidency that carries potentially “severe” consequences.
The Detroit native and 2012 Republican presidential nominee said on Facebook that Trump needs to make clear there is “no conceivable comparison or moral equivalency” between Nazis and the counter-protesters who turned out to denounce their message of white supremacy.
“Whether he intended to or not, what he communicated caused racists to rejoice, minorities to weep, and the vast heart of America to mourn,” Romney said of Trump.
“But what we heard is now the reality, and unless it is addressed by the president as such, with unprecedented candor and strength, there may commence an unraveling of our national fabric.”
Romney noted that U.S. military leaders immediately spoke out to counter the president’s statements to ensure that the commitment of service members would not diminish, as U.S. allies are “stunned and our enemies celebrate.”
“America’s ability to help secure a peaceful and prosperous world is diminished. And who would want to come to the aid of a country they perceive as racist if ever the need were to arise, as it did after 9/11?” wrote Romney, who was briefly considered by Trump for secretary of state.
“The potential consequences are severe in the extreme. Accordingly, the president must take remedial action in the extreme. He should address the American people, acknowledge that he was wrong, apologize.”
Romney’s words are among the strongest issued by a fellow Republican following remarks Trump made at a Tuesday news conference blaming “both sides” of protesters for violence at the rally in Charlottesville last weekend.
Many GOP leaders did not name Trump or directly address him in speaking out against white supremacy, but some have. Sen. Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, on Thursday admonished Trump for his Charlottesville response and said Trump hasn’t demonstrated enough “stability” or “competence” to be a successful president.
And U.S. Rep. Dave Trott, R-Birmingham, frustrated with the tone of Tuesday’s news conference, suggested that Trump “should focus more on golf & have less press conferences” to help unify the nation.
Trump on Twitter on Thursday denied that he had suggested a moral equivalency between the KKK and neo-Nazis and Heather Heyer, who was killed and 19 others injured when a right-wing activist drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters in Charlottesville.
Romney’s niece, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel, has defended Trump in recent days.
“The president condemned the white supremacists and the KKK and the neo-Nazis unequivocally,” McDaniel said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
“We have no place in our party at all for KKK, anti-Semitism, racism, bigotry. It has no place in the Republican Party ... We don’t want your vote.”
Former KKK leader David Duke thanked Trump on Twitter “for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists.” Duke supported Trump during his presidential campaign – an endorsement that Trump was slow to distance himself from.
Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, on Friday said Trump needed to “once and for all ... definitively repudiate the support of David Duke and his ilk and call for every American to banish racists and haters from any and every association.”
Romney closed his Facebook post Friday by telling Trump that America’s children “are watching, our soldiers are watching, the world is watching. Mr. President, act now for the good of the country.”