UPDATE: 3:20 p.m. Donald Trump responded Thursday to former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney ripping his campaign in a news conference by saying that Romney had been “begging” for his endorsement in the 2012 election.
Earlier in the day, Romney spoke in Utah of how disastrous Trump would be as commander-in-chief and criticized his approach to foreign policy. Trump responded to Romney at a campaign rally in Portland, Maine, calling the speech “irrelevant” and referencing his endorsement of the former Massachusetts governor in the last election.
“I could’ve said, ‘Mitt drop to your knees’ and he would’ve dropped to his knees,” Trump said. “He was begging. He was begging me.”
Trump added that Romney “did a big choke” in the election against President Barack Obama.
“Mitt is a failed candidate. He failed horribly. He failed badly,” Trump said. “That was a race that should have been won and I don’t know what happened to him. He disappeared.”
Trump continued talking about how he supported Romney in that election, telling the crowd that he raised money for Romney against the advice of others who feared he wouldn’t be able to win the election. Trump said there were so many people at the fundraiser that the carpet was “ruined.”
“This carpet was wiped out and nobody thanked me for the carpet,” Trump said. “Hey, maybe I could send Mitt a bill for carpet ruined?”
Trump said that Romney “chickened” out from running in the 2016 election after former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush “convinced him not to run.” Bush dropped out of the race last month.
“But I’ll tell you the real reason he chickened out. It wasn’t Jeb,” Trump said. “It was me.”
Trump also called Romney a “choke artist” and compared him to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), whom New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie accused of giving scripted lines at a Republican presidential debate.
“He choked and he choked like I’ve never seen anyone choke other than Rubio when Chris Christie was grilling him,” Trump said. “That was one of the great chokes.”
Trump repeatedly called for protesters to be removed from the rally, saying at one point “they just don’t stop.”
Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R), known for his comments about drug dealers named “D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty” impregnating Maine’s young, white women and for suggesting bringing back the guillotine to kill drug dealers, introduced Trump at the rally after endorsing him last week.
LePage said Trump was “a little bit shy,” but “says what needs to be said.” When Trump took the stage, he called LePage a “tough cookie.”
Trump also mentioned his wife, Melania, who he said tracks his place in the polls.
“She’s my pollster. I paid her less money, but she’s better,” Trump said, before he trailed off and couldn’t be heard over the microphone.