Presidential candidate Donald Trump called Mitt Romney a ''choke artist,'' after Romney's blistering criticism of Republican front runner. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump offered a blistering rebuttal to criticism from Mitt Romney calling him a "choke artist," at a campaign event in Portland, Maine Thursday. "Mitt is a failed candidate. He failed," Trump told the crowd. "I backed him. He was begging for my endorsement. I could have said, 'Mitt drop to your knees,' and he would have dropped to his knees... he is a choke artist," Trump said. He also said that the real reason Romney did not make another bid for the Republican nomination was not because of Jeb Bush, but because Trump himself was in the race. Romney, the former Republican presidential nominee called gave a fulsome rebuke of 2016 Republican front-runner Thursday, leading an attempt by the party establishment to halt the rise of the outspoken New York billionaire. Romney, a Republican elder statesman, urged Republicans in states that have not yet held nominating contests to back Trump's opponents to stop his march to the nomination for the Nov. 8 election to succeed President Barack Obama. "Here's what I know. Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud," said Romney, age 68, in a hard-hitting speech. "He's playing the members of the American public for suckers. He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat," he said. Trump has made his party's mainstream uneasy with his positions on trade and immigration, including his calls to build a wall between the United States and Mexico, deport 11 million illegal immigrants and temporarily bar Muslims from entering the country. But Romney's strategy risks backfiring by further energizing Trump's supporters, who are angry with a party they see as not representing their views on illegal immigration, trade and America's role in the world.