Former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele on Monday warned that GOP officials will face the wrath of voters if they broker a deal for the presidential nomination.
“Anything that seems to say, ‘take from the guy in first place and give to the guy in third place,’ like say [Sen. Marco] Rubio [R-Fla.], or, worse yet, bring someone completely from the outside, like Mitt Romney and give them the nomination, all hell’s going to break loose,” he told host Buck Sexton on The Blaze TV.
“Also, keep in mind what happened in 2012,” Steele continued. “Part of Romney’s defeat came from the fact that he lost upwards of 3 million Republicans who did not turn out at the polls and vote for him.
“They were so turned off by his campaign and his candidacy that they stayed home. That number could balloon this year if that scenario we’re talking about unfolds at the [GOP presidential] contention. Trust me, that base will stay home.”
Steele cautioned Republican leadership against underestimating the popularity of GOP front-runner Donald Trump.
“Keep in mind that Trump has a fervent base,” he said. “They continue to grow it and those folks stay with him.
“They have stuck with him through thick and thin. If he’s not in play, those folks won’t play, and that could be a real problem.”
Romney has sharply attacked Trump in recent weeks, fueling speculation that he may be seen as a last-minute alternative as the Republican presidential nominee.
The former Massachusetts governor insisted Friday that he has no plans on running.