Mitt Romney fries Donald Trump in an epic speech

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

Mitt Romney: 'Donald Trump Is a Phony

Mitt Romney railed on GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump in a major address Thursday, calling him a "phony," "fraud," "con man," and a "fake."

Romney's speech came as the Republican establishment grows increasingly worried about the growing potential of a Trump nomination. It was delivered two days after Trump scored a dominating victory during the "Super Tuesday" primaries and caucuses.

RELATED: Reaction to the speech on social media

17 PHOTOS
Twitter Reacts to Romney's Speech
See Gallery
Mitt Romney fries Donald Trump in an epic speech
Ironic @MittRomney admitting that he's not the businessman @realDonaldTrump is https://t.co/J54xeyiZ4z #MakeAmericaGreatAgain #Establishment
I share my friend @MittRomney's concerns - hope American ppl think hard about who they want as Commander-in-Chief: https://t.co/yP6NqRDM17
There is a heckler now in the back of the room - he is being shouted down by the crowd. @MittRomney
.@MittRomney, You will not stop the #TrumpTrain‼️You look like a complete LOSER. Very DESPERATE attempt. #Fail https://t.co/z10jKyxAbe
Harry Reid listening to Mitt Romney go after Trump's tax returns like https://t.co/v4xqnRPXUo
Never been more proud of @MittRomney. What a speech. Morally compelling. Tactically wise. Strongly worded.
Mr @MittRomney if only YOU went after Barack Obama w/the same vigor in 2012. And to think, I campaigned for YOU. #StepAside #UlostTwice
Donald Trump, Don't Take the Bait The "machine's" deception and nonsensical attack on Trump isn't really an... https://t.co/XkLVBlZJhh
Well said, @MittRomney. -John https://t.co/pTwmBTaeAo
In essence, is Mitt calling Trump supporters…what’s the word….stupid?
Sending Mitt Romney out to attack Trump will only further galvanize his supporters. It also makes sets them up for a divisive spring battle.
@MittRomney political indictment of @realDonaldTrump was the clarion call the #GOPEstablishment needed but one the GOP base does not want.
A brilliant speech by @MittRomney. No one can ever question his love for our party and our country. #TrueLeadership #MittRomney
.@MittRomney not holding back; unloading the full load on @realDonaldTrump. I bet the Donald is reflecting on his critique right now!
The lack of loyalty is truly astonishing. #Romney https://t.co/wIrpD3DzMH
@MittRomney speaks the truth. Our country deserves better than a crass bully who admires thugs like Putin. #NeverTrump #TeamMarco
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Romney's speech -- remarkable in that the party's most recent nominee was launching an unprecedented assault against its current frontrunner -- went after Trump's business history, policy proposals, and fitness for office.

Listing many of Trump's previous businesses, like Trump Steaks, Trump Airlines, and the controversial Trump University, Romney said Trump isn't a "business genius."

READ MORE: 2008 Republican nominee John McCain joins Romney in blasting Trump

After then speaking about a remark Trump said on "60 Minutes," in which he said the US should let Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "take out ISIS," Romney said his foreign policy is "reckless."

RELATED: Trump on the campaign trail

6 PHOTOS
Donald Trump says he wants to punch a protester in the face at a rally
See Gallery
Mitt Romney fries Donald Trump in an epic speech
LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 22: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at South Point Arena in Las Vegas, NV on Monday Feb. 22, 2016. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 23: People reach out for signatures, photos and handshakes as republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets supporters after speaking during a campaign rally at South Point Arena in Las Vegas, NV on Monday Feb. 22, 2016. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 22: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally at the South Point Hotel & Casino on February 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Trump is campaigning in Nevada for the Republican presidential nomination ahead of the state's Feb. 23 Republican caucuses. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, has his photograph taken with Paige Poole an Elvis Presley impersonator at the conclusion of a campaign rally in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., on Monday, Feb. 22, 2016. After a decisive victory of Trump in the South Carolina Republican primary, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz both looked to cast themselves as the only candidate able to challenge the billionaire front-runner for the party's 2016 presidential nomination. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 22: Marjie Burdett (L) and Diane Pastorino, both of Nevada, attend a rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the South Point Hotel & Casino on February 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Trump is campaigning in Nevada for the Republican presidential nomination ahead of the state's Feb. 23 Republican caucuses. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

"Donald Trump tells us that he is very, very smart," Romney said.

"Here's what I know: Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud," Romney said. "His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He's playing the American public for suckers. He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat," he continued.

Romney on Trump: 'A Business Genius He Is Not'

Romney, who recently has been publicly critical of Trump's campaign, gave his Thursday morning speech at the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

"His domestic policies would lead to recession," Romney said later. "His foreign policies would make America and the world less safe. He has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president. And his personal qualities would mean that America would cease to be a shining city on a hill."

Data is curated by insidegov.com

He went on to say that, should Trump win his party's nomination, the election will be handed to a "dishonest" Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state who is the Democratic frontrunner.

"Trump relies any poll that reflects what he thinks of himself. But polls are also saying that he will lose to Hillary Clinton," he said.

Mitt Romney: 'Dishonesty Is Donald Trump's Hallmark'

He added that Trump's challengers -- Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida -- are the only candidates with "serious policy proposals."

The 2012 GOP presidential nominee also channeled former US President Ronald Reagan in his speech, referencing a 1964 address Reagan made about the future of the country.

"I'm no Ronald Reagan and this is a different moment but I believe with my heart and soul that we face another time for choosing, one that will have profound consequences for the Republican Party and more importantly, for the country," he said.

Romney also called out Trump for calling former US President George W. Bush a "liar" and also said Trump "admires" Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"That is a twisted example of evil trumping good," he said.

He went on to explain how he understands the anger that the national electorate feels -- anger that has led to Trump's rise within the party. But, Romney -- in another slight at Trump -- said, in the past, anger from voters was "transformed into energy directed for good" by past presidents.

Trump, he insinuated, wouldn't be the best example for future generations.

"The president and yes, the nominees of the country's great parties help define America to billions of people," Romney said. "All of them bear responsibility of being an example for our children and grandchildren."

Romney in recent days has been locked in a back-and-forth with Trump, whom he's denounced for dodging questions about the Ku Klux Klan and for not releasing his tax returns.

"A disqualifying & disgusting response by @realDonaldTrump to the KKK. His coddling of repugnant bigotry is not in the character of America," Romney tweeted on Monday after Trump said in an interview that he didn't know enough about former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke or white supremacists to denounce them.

Trump later attributed his answer to a faulty earpiece.

On taxes, Romney has repeatedly suggested Trump could be hiding a "bombshell" in his returns. He insisted Thursday that Trump must release his tax returns and added he thinks Trump doesn't do "much if anything" for disabled Americans and veterans.

"Well, I think there's something there," Romney told Fox News host Neil Cavuto last week. "Either he's not anywhere near as wealthy as he says he is, or he hasn't been paying the kind of taxes we would expect him to pay. Or perhaps he hasn't been giving money to the vets or the disabled, like he's been telling us he's been doing."

Trump has unleashed multiple tirades against Romney on social media and in public.

"Watch how he responds to my speech today," Romney said Thursday. "Will he talk about our policy differences or will he attack me with every imaginable low road insult? This may tell you what you need to know about his temperament, his stability, and his suitability to be president."

Last week, Trump tweeted that Romney was one of the "dumbest and worst" Republican candidates to ever run for president.

"I criticized Mitt Romney for losing that election. He should have won that election," Trump said during last week's GOP debate in Houston.

After bits of Romney's speech were leaked early Thursday morning, Trump took to Twitter to unleash a scathing series of tweets at the former governor.

See the series of tweets in the gallery below:

5 PHOTOS
Donald Trump's Mitt Romney Tweets
See Gallery
Mitt Romney fries Donald Trump in an epic speech
Failed candidate Mitt Romney,who ran one of the worst races in presidential history,is working with the establishment to bury a big "R" win!
I have brought millions of people into the Republican Party, while the Dems are going down. Establishment wants to kill this movement!
I am the only one who can beat Hillary Clinton. I am not a Mitt Romney, who doesn't know how to win. Hillary wants no part of "Trump"
Why did Mitt Romney BEG me for my endorsement four years ago?
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Trump is two days removed from a big "Super Tuesday" win, where he captured at least seven of the states that held primaries or caucused (Colorado does not release the results of its Republican caucus).

The real-estate mogul holds a nearly 100 delegate lead over Cruz, who is in second place, and he has a more than 200-delegate lead over Rubio. Trump is also leading the polls in Michigan, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, and Illinois, the five largest states that hold elections within the next two weeks.

RELATED: Super Tuesday across America

24 PHOTOS
Super Tuesday 2016 across the country
See Gallery
Mitt Romney fries Donald Trump in an epic speech
Voters gather for the Democratic presidential caucus at North High School in Denver, Colorado on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. Colorado voters are caucusing to decide between Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Colorado is one of a dozen states holding 'Super Tuesday' presidential caucuses or primaries. / AFP / Jason Connolly (Photo credit should read JASON CONNOLLY/AFP/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, VA - MARCH 01: Poll workers verify voters' photo indentification cards before they are allowed to cast a ballot inside the Arlington County Fire Station 10 during Super Tuesday voting March 1, 2016 in Arlington, Virginia. Officials are expecting a record turnout of voters in Virginia, one of a dozen states holding presidential primaries or caucuses. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
TAYLORSVILLE, GA - MARCH 01: A Georgia voter leaves Taylorsville Town Hall after voting on Super Tuesday March 1, 2016, in Taylorsville, Georgia. Voters head to the polls to cast their votes on Georgia's presidential primary. (Photo by Branden Camp/Getty Images)
Voters participate in the Democratic presidential caucus at North High School in Denver, Colorado on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. Colorado voters are caucusing to decide between Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Colorado is one of a dozen states holding 'Super Tuesday' presidential caucuses or primaries. / AFP / Jason Connolly (Photo credit should read JASON CONNOLLY/AFP/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN- MARCH 1: Caucus goers cast their vote at a Democratic party caucus site at Jefferson Community School on Super Tuesday, March 1, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. High turnout has caused long lines and wait times for voters all around Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN- MARCH 1: Caucus goers wait in line to cast their vote at a Democratic party caucus site at Jefferson Community School on Super Tuesday, March 1, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. High turnout has caused long lines and wait times for voters all around Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
WHITE, GA - MARCH 01: 81-year-old Helen Free, left, a polling site assistant manager, takes a lunch break while two Georgia voters fill out voting paper work before casting their ballots on Super Tuesday March 1, 2016, in White, Georgia. Voters head to the polls to cast their votes on Georgia's presidential primary. (Photo by Branden Camp/Getty Images)
ADAIRSVILLE, GA - MARCH 01: 'I'm a Georgia Voter' stickers sit in a basket at a fire station on Super Tuesday March 1, 2016, in Adairsville, Georgia. Voters head to the polls to cast their votes on Georgia's presidential primary. (Photo by Branden Camp/Getty Images)
MIDDLEBURY, VT - MARCH 01: People vote at a polling station on March 1, 2016 in Middlebury, Vermont. Thousands of Americans across the country are participating in Super Tuesday, the biggest day of the 2016 primary season. Thirteen states and one territory are participating in Super Tuesday: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Wyoming and American Samoa. This years election, with strong candidates on both the left and the right, is shaping up to be one of the most exciting and divisive in recent history. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
SHOAL CREEK, AL - MARCH 1: Mike Maroney, of Shoal Creek, wears an 'I Voted' sticker during the Super Tuesday election at the Shoal Creek Community Center March 1, 2016 in Shoal Creek, Alabama. The rural center has about 70 voters and most had voted before lunch time. 13 states and American Samoa are holding presidential primary elections, with over 1400 delegates at stake. (Photo by Hal Yeager/Getty Images)
TAYLORSVILLE, GA - MARCH 01: Edna Martinez wears a 'I'm a Georgia Voter' sticker after casting her ballot at Taylorsville Town Hall on Super Tuesday March 1, 2016, in Taylorsville, Georgia. Voters head to the polls to cast their votes on Georgia's presidential primary. (Photo by Branden Camp/Getty Images)
FORT WORTH, TX - MARCH 1: Voters line up to cast their ballots on Super Tuesday March 1, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas. 13 states and American Samoa are holding presidential primary elections, with over 1400 delegates at stake. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
Signs are seen on a chair to assist voters at Centreville High School in Centreville, Virginia March 1, 2016, during the Super Tuesday primary voting. Voters in a dozen states will take part in 'Super Tuesday' -- a series of primaries and caucuses in states ranging from Alaska to Virginia, with Virginia the first to open its polling stations at 6:00 am (1100 GMT). / AFP / PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
John Echeverria uses the new automatic voting machine at a polling station in Strafford, Vermont, U.S., on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. On Super Tuesday, more delegates will be awarded than on any other day of the presidential race. About half of the delegates needed for a Republican candidate to win the nomination are at stake, plus about a third for Democrats. Photographer: Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist/Bloomberg via Getty Images
ARLINGTON, VA - MARCH 01: Poll workers verify voters' photo indentification cards before they are allowed to cast a ballot inside the Arlington County Fire Station 10 during Super Tuesday voting March 1, 2016 in Arlington, Virginia. Officials are expecting a record turnout of voters in Virginia, one of a dozen states holding presidential primaries or caucuses. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
I Voted stickers rest on a voting machine at a polling station in Strafford, Vermont, U.S., on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. On Super Tuesday, more delegates will be awarded than on any other day of the presidential race. About half of the delegates needed for a Republican candidate to win the nomination are at stake, plus about a third for Democrats. Photographer: Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist/Bloomberg via Getty Images
MONTAGUE, MA - MARCH 01: Poll workers use a manual, crank operated, ballot box to collect ballots on March 01, 2016 in Montague, MA. Officials are expecting a record turnout of voters in Massachusetts, one of a dozen states holding Super Tuesday presidential primaries or caucuses. (Photo by Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images)
Voters stand in line to await voting at the McGee Community Center on March 1, 2016 in Conway, Arkansas. Americans began voting in the crucial Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses in what is deemed the most critical day in the presidential nominating process. The first state to open its polling stations was Virginia at 6:00 am (1100 GMT). / AFP / Michael B. Thomas (Photo credit should read MICHAEL B. THOMAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Voter stickers are seen on a desk at the McGee Community Center on March 1, 2016 in Conway, Arkansas. Americans began voting in the crucial Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses in what is deemed the most critical day in the presidential nominating process. The first state to open its polling stations was Virginia at 6:00 am (1100 GMT). / AFP / Michael B. Thomas (Photo credit should read MICHAEL B. THOMAS/AFP/Getty Images)
A man walks into the Madison Activities Center polling location in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. On Super Tuesday, more delegates will be awarded than on any other day of the presidential race. About half of the delegates needed for a Republican candidate to win the nomination are at stake, plus about a third for Democrats. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A voter marks his ballot at the Madison Activities Center polling location in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. On Super Tuesday, more delegates will be awarded than on any other day of the presidential race. About half of the delegates needed for a Republican candidate to win the nomination are at stake, plus about a third for Democrats. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A 'Polling Place' sign stands outside the Madison Activities Center polling location in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. On Super Tuesday, more delegates will be awarded than on any other day of the presidential race. About half of the delegates needed for a Republican candidate to win the nomination are at stake, plus about a third for Democrats. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A stack of 'I voted' stickers are seen March 1, 2016, at one of the Virginia primary election polling stations at Colin Powell Elementary School, in Centreville, Virginia. Voters in a dozen states will take part in 'Super Tuesday' -- a series of primaries and caucuses in states ranging from Alaska to Virginia, with Virginia the first to open its polling stations at 6:00 am (1100 GMT). / AFP / PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

More from Business Insider:

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners

Cops Catch Up To A Suspicious Speeding Vehicle - And Make An Appalling Discovery Inside Cops Catch Up To A Suspicious Speeding Vehicle - And Make An Appalling Discovery Inside
If You Find One Of These In Your Yard, Don't Touch It - And Try Not To Panic If You Find One Of These In Your Yard, Don't Touch It - And Try Not To Panic
Don't Get Too Close To a Newborn Giraffe Unless You Want to Get Kicked in the Nuts Don't Get Too Close To a Newborn Giraffe Unless You Want to Get Kicked in the Nuts