- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 3, 2016

Donald Trump dismissed Mitt Romney’s disparaging remarks Tuesday, unleashing a characteristic barrage of insults at the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, calling him “a disaster” and saying he’s irrelevant to the current Republican debate.

Mr. Trump, speaking at a rally in Maine, said Mr. Romney was “a choke artist” who blew a winnable race in 2012 and was too scared to try again this year, knowing he’d have to face off against Mr. Trump.

Mitt is a failed candidate,” Mr. Trump said.

His remarks came just hours after Mr. Romney, speaking in Utah, declared verbal war on Mr. Trump, saying he’d be a threat to national security and would send the country careening into an economic recession if he were to win the White House.

“Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University,” the 2012 candidate said — though he has not endorsed anyone else in the race.

The attack marked a stunning turn in the GOP race, where the party’s establishment leaders have decided they need to derail Mr. Trump, yet have struggled to settle on a single credible alternative. Mr. Romney was also a curious messenger for the attacks, having himself suffered a rough primary in 2012.

He left a fractured party enmeshed in a fight that produced Mr. Trump’s candidacy.

Mr. Trump said Mr. Romney is suffering from wealth-envy, and said he has a Gucci store on Fifth Avenue worth more than Mr. Romney’s own net worth.

Mr. Trump also questioned Mr. Romney’s integrity, saying the less-wealthy businessman begged for his support in that race — support Mr. Trump did give him.

“I could have said ‘Mitt, drop to your knees,’ he would have dropped to his knees. He was begging,” Mr. Trump said.

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