Mitt Romney delivered some searing criticism of Donald Trump's presidential campaign on Friday, hitting the presumptive Republican nominee for his own attacks on Latinos, Muslims and women.
"I simply can't put my name down as someone who voted for principles that suggest racism or xenophobia, misogyny, bigotry, [for someone] who's been vulgar time and time again," Romney, one of the GOP's most vocal Trump critics, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "I don't want to be associated with that in any way, shape or form."
Citing Trump's recent racist remarks about U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is handling two lawsuits accusing the for-profit Trump University of fraud, the previous Republican presidential nominee said that even if Trump tones down his rhetoric, he's already revealed his true colors.
"He indicated what he believes in his heart about Mexicans and about race by the comments he made about Judge Curiel, and he may try to distance himself from that, but we know what he believes," Romney said.
He also noted that Trump refused to apologize for his remarks.
"I don't want to see trickle-down racism. I don't want to see a president of the United States saying things which change the character of the generations of Americans that are following. Presidents have an impact on the nature of our nation," Romney said. "And trickle-down racism, trickle-down bigotry, trickle-down misogyny, all these things are extraordinarily dangerous to the heart and character of America."
He added, "This is not a matter of just policy. It's more a matter of character and integrity."
Romney declined, however, to criticize his 2012 running mate, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who has stood by his own endorsement of Trump despite acknowledging the racism of Trump's remarks.
"I wish everybody in the Republican Party had rejected Mr. Trump and chosen someone else," Romney said. "I'm certainly not going to argue with them about their choice."
For his part, he said that he won't be voting for either Trump or Hillary Clinton. When asked if he could support Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson instead, Romney said that was a possibility he would consider.
He has "no intention" of running himself, he said. He believes it's too late to launch a credible third-party campaign.
Trump's remarks on Curiel have provoked immense backlash, even prompting some Republicans to un-endorse the business mogul. The media, too, may be on the edge of a "Murrow moment," ready to confront Trump even as the legendary reporter Edward R. Murrow once took on Sen. Joe McCarthy.
Editor's note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist