Romney speaks up on Trump

The Wall Street Journal stated last Friday that Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans hold on to Arizona House seat Dems win majority in New York Senate, but won't control it Mulvaney to bankers: Campaign donations will help limit consumer bureau's power MORE has an obligation to release his tax returns now so the voters can see them.

"One of Donald Trump's claims to presidential competence is his business and financial success, and so he should want voters to see the proof beyond the gilded staircases," the Journal noted. "He could enhance his credibility on the point by releasing his tax returns."

But a week has passed and as momentum builds to a Trump victory, we still haven’t seen them.

Then two days ago, Mitt Romney declared that Trump's returns may contain a "bombshell" and called on Trump to release his tax records.

"Frankly, I think we have a good reason to believe that there's a bombshell in Donald Trump's taxes," the 2012 GOP nominee told Fox News. "I think there's something there. 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 to the disabled like he's been telling us he's doing."

Romney speaks up at the most critical moment in this long and weary Republican primary. Things have changed since former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush dropped out of the race. Early on, at the very beginning of the primary run, Bush met privately with Romney and political rumor had it that they were talking to determine who would be the most effective leader and representative of the Republican tradition, and who could raise the most money for the competition.

Bush came forth and Romney headed tentatively into retirement. But as of this week, Bush is out. Who else today should be the spokesperson for mainstream conservatives but Romney? It had been sensibly repeated in the press this past week that if Bush is out and Romney is out, the influential Romney should endorse Florida Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioLobbying world Former Florida congressmen mull bipartisan gubernatorial run: report Winners and losers from Jim Bridenstine’s confirmation as NASA administrator MORE now, as he is the closest of the new generation to the traditional establishment positions, as he could consolidate conservatives before Trump rides the wave all the way to the convention. But Romney did not endorse.

If Romney does not endorse Rubio before the big primary day this coming week, then it might be considered that he is holding his cards for another purpose. Possibly he has something else in mind.

Conservatives in Congress are looking to House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanHenry Kissinger, Tim Cook among guests at White House state dinner Overnight Finance: Stocks fall hard | Trump sending delegation to China for trade talks | SEC fines Yahoo M over breach | Dodd-Frank rollback dominates banking conference To keep control of House, GOP must have McCarthy as next Speaker MORE (R-Wis.), Romney's running mate in 2012, to unite the Republican Party in Congress and also to bring a challenge to the Trump agenda, such as it is. Already Trump has destabilized the world and brought warnings from as far away as China, as he accuses China, India, Vietnam and Mexico of poaching American jobs, according to reports.

There have even been reports that Ryan is conservatism's new Secret Santa and informal plans are afoot to put Ryan against Trump, possibly at a brokered convention. Ryan has made vehement denials and Trump has promised retaliation to anything he considers out of the ordinary put up by the Republican National Committee.

But now that Bush has dropped out of the race, conservatives should quickly recognize that Romney is their one and only moral leader. He is the last man standing in the conservative tradition. And in this regard, they are better off than they were a month ago or even four years ago as they envisioned a Bush or a Bush proxy running against Romney, all of whom have by now fallen by the wayside.

They should recognize as well that although Ryan has done a superb job in the House and in the 2012 Romney campaign, he is no stand-in for Romney.

And if they finally decide — now in the very last minutes before the big swing of states vote next week — that they must bring a frontal challenge to the Trump movement as all eyes of the world now look to it, they must acknowledge that the only person who can beat Donald Trump and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDems flip New York state seat that Republicans have held for nearly four decades Dems win majority in New York Senate, but won't control it Chelsea Clinton hits back at NYT reporter over details in new book MORE both is Mitt Romney.

Quigley is a prize-winning writer who has worked more than 35 years as a book and magazine editor, political commentator and reviewer. For 20 years he has been an amateur farmer, raising Tunis sheep and organic vegetables. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and four children. Contact him at