Utah Senator Mitt Romney called for Republican donors to pressure noncompetitive GOP presidential candidates to drop out of the race.
Romney, a failed presidential candidate in 2008 and 2012, has been outspoken in his criticism of former President Donald Trump.
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed published this week, he urged party donors to push candidates whose paths to the nomination are effectively null to drop out of the race by February of next year.
“There are incentives for no-hope candidates to overstay their prospects. Coming in behind first place may grease another run in four years or have market value of its own: Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum got paying gigs,” Romney wrote, referring to two of his competitors for the 2012 nomination.
“Left to their own inclinations, expect several of the contenders to stay in the race for a long time,” Romney added. “They will split the non-Trump vote, giving him the prize. A plurality is all that is needed for winner-take-all primaries.”
He also cautioned donors against relying on party leadership to cut down the field.
“Donors may think that party leaders can narrow the field. Not so. Candidates don’t listen to party officials, because voters don’t listen to them either,” he wrote. “And the last people who would ever encourage a candidate to withdraw are the campaign staff and consultants who want to keep their jobs for as long as possible.”
Longshots Prepare for First Debate
Although Romney has not hinted toward an endorsement of any of Trump’s fellow contenders, he and the megadonors he’s attempting to sway will undoubtedly be watching their performance in the upcoming first GOP debate.
Trump does not plan to participate, but the candidates who do will still seek to contrast themselves against him.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is a consistent second to Trump in the polls, but his campaign has faced recent struggles, including a money crunch that has led to him laying off over a third of his staff.