Mitt Romney compared Donald Trump to a “gargoyle” hanging over the Republican party that can drive away potential voters as criticism mounts over the former president’s meeting with Kanye West and Nick Fuentes.
The Utah senator on Monday said having dinner with people who held racist and antisemitic views was “disgusting”. He said he “voted twice” to have Mr Trump removed from office as “anybody else” would be a better leader for Republicans.
“I don’t think he should be president of the United States. I don’t think he should be the nominee of our party in 2024,” Mr Romney said. “And I certainly don’t want him hanging over our party like a gargoyle.”
“There is no bottom to the degree to which he’s willing to degrade himself, and the country for that matter,” said the 2012 Republican presidential nominee.
“Having dinner with those people was disgusting.”
The former president is facing fresh attacks from Republican party leaders since West, who has officially changed his name to Ye, revealed he met with Mr Trump at his residence in Mar-a-Lago along with white supremacist Mr Fuentes.
Mr Trump’s former vice president Mike Pence demanded he apologise to Americans for hosting the two people with a history of antisemitic views.
“President Trump was wrong to give a white nationalist, an anti-semite and a Holocaust denier a seat at the table — and I think he should apologise,” he told NewsNation in an interview.
While West claimed Mr Trump was impressed with Mr Fuentes, the one-time president clapped back on Friday and said the rapper had “unexpectedly showed up with three of his friends, whom I knew nothing about”.
Mr Trump’s clarification of being unaware of Mr Fuentes has fallen short in placating criticism against him.
“Ridiculous. That’s all I have to say about that,” said senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, a member of the Senate Republican leadership.
“I have no idea what’s going on. But again, it is really ridiculous that he would do that.”
The Grammy award-winning rapper, who has taken aim at running for president again in 2024, said he asked Mr Trump to be his running mate during the dinner.
West lost several business relationships because of antisemitic remarks made on Twitter and had witnessed his wealth drastically whittle down overnight as a result.
He was suspended from the social media platform after saying he would go “death con 3 (sic) on JEWISH PEOPLE” sparking backlash from the Jewish community.
He had visited Mr Trump’s residence with Mr Fuentes, one of the country’s most prominent white supremacists and a known Holocaust denier.
In a statement on Friday, Mr Trump said: “Kanye West very much wanted to visit Mar-a-Lago. Our dinner meeting was intended to be Kanye and me only, but he arrived with a guest whom I had never met and knew nothing about.”
He added that the dinner took place “with many members present on the back patio. The dinner was quick and uneventful. Then they left for the airport”.