Former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney listed a half-dozen Republican candidates he said could qualify as mainstream conservatives his party could live with in a general election — and said he didn’t think Donald J. Trump was one of those.
Mr. Romney, a two-time candidate who was the party’s standard-bearer in 2012, ticked off New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and businesswoman Carly Fiorina as viable options.
He also said he doesn’t disqualify Mr. Trump because of his business experience, but rather because of poor understanding of foreign policy — particularly after the candidate’s statements in recent days that he would leave Syria to Russian influence.
“I thought that was both absurd and dangerous,” Mr. Romney said at the Aspen Institute’s ideas forum in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Romney did not mention retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who along with Mr. Trump and Ms. Fiorina has captured an anti-establishment sentiment within the GOP primary electorate.
Mr. Romney said the rise of what he called “insurgent” candidates is a symbol of voters’ frustration with nothing getting done in Washington. The former one-term Massachusetts governor proposed changing the Senate’s filibuster rule, saying that when the Senate is controlled by a different party than the president, the filibuster should go away.
He said that elevates issues and lets voters see Congress working, and leaves the president a check on bills he doesn’t like.
“Let him veto them if he feels they’re not appropriate,” Mr. Romney said.
Mr. Romney lost the 2012 presidential election to President Obama in a contest GOP analysts had said should have been winnable.
The GOP has been struggling to figure out the lessons from that defeat for the last three years.
Mr. Romney said he would have done some things differently in hindsight, and singled out the need to “do a better job connecting with minority voters.”