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Mitt Romney To Make His Case Against Nominating Donald Trump

The Huffington Post logo The Huffington Post 3/03/2016 Scott Conroy

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will speak out forcefully on Thursday against Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump in a speech in Salt Lake City, three Republican sources familiar with Romney’s plans told The Huffington Post. 

In his remarks, Romney will offer praise for the three other GOP White House hopefuls who remain in the race: Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. 

But Romney will not endorse a candidate -- for the time being, at least.

Romney’s decision not to formally back a candidate at this stage in the race contradicts a HuffPost story that we posted the morning after Trump’s victory in the South Carolina primary, which incorrectly reported that the 2012 GOP presidential nominee had decided to endorse Rubio.

That report from February came out of conversations with two high-level Republican campaign sources, each of whom told HuffPost that Romney’s endorsement of Rubio was a done deal. After talking through our reporting and sourcing with HuffPost editors at the time, we felt confident enough to run the story.

Romney had let it be known privately that he favored Rubio -- a position communicated to multiple senior aides for Republican presidential candidates, who anticipated that the former Massachusetts governor would endorse the Florida senator.

But Romney ultimately decided that he could be more effective -- for Rubio and for the party -- by becoming an “independent voice” in the GOP race instead of endorsing Rubio, according to a high-level Republican familiar with Romney's thinking.

Romney is scheduled to deliver his remarks attacking Trump at the University of Utah at 9:30 a.m. Mountain time on Thursday.

In part, the former governor plans to use his speech to echo tweets he's written that criticize Trump for not releasing his tax returns and for refusing to disavow former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, despite multiple chances to do so during an interview with CNN on Sunday. (Since then, Trump has disavowed the support he's received from white supremacist groups.)

Romney “feels like he can make a difference, and he fears for the country, and he can’t stand Trump,” one source close to the former governor told HuffPost. “He’s so aghast at the reality of where we’re at, that he feels like he needs to do something.”

But Romney’s decision to wait until now to truly get involved in the race -- as Trump seems to be on the verge of claiming the GOP nomination -- may not do much to help defeat the Republican front-runner.

Several advisers and Republican officials within Romney’s political orbit have encouraged him over the last few weeks to get behind Rubio formally, and several of them had expected him to do just that before Super Tuesday.

But one longtime Romney adviser said it's the other Republican candidates who should bear the blame for failing to stop Trump.

“No one can save you but yourself,” the adviser said. “You can’t outsource your courage. Cruz is the guy who spent months talking about how great Donald Trump is, and Rubio is the guy who spent months not attacking Trump.”

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