What Romney got wrong
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Mitt Romney is the candidate who was sold as the best chance to win against President Obama in 2012, and then proceeded to stumble so badly that his campaign couldn't even provide election volunteers with working get-out-the-vote software. It is no surprise that the GOP establishment's choice in 2012 is upset that primary voters aren't toeing the line after the debacles of eight and four years ago.

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In fact, Romney's candidacy in 2012 mirrors the Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Cybersecurity: Bipartisan bill aims to deter election interference | Russian hackers target Senate | House Intel panel subpoenas Bannon | DHS giving 'active defense' cyber tools to private sector Senators unveil bipartisan push to deter future election interference Puerto Rico's children need recovery funds MORE (R-Fla.) problem of 2016. Romney never was able to speak effectively about the most potent issue against the president, ObamaCare, because as governor of Massachusetts, he helped orchestrate a state version of the hated law. Similarly, Rubio's "pro-amnesty in Spanish and anti-amnesty in English" approach combined with his Gang of Eight amnesty bill leadership irrevocably separates him from the vast majority of voters on the issue that symbolizes the divide between the Beltway and outside-the-Beltway Republicans.

Romney's message from the #neverTrump GOP consultant movement used language that directly mirrored Rubio's in assailing Trump, making it clear that his vote-for-anyone-other-than-Trump statement was really a primal scream attempting to save Rubio's flagging home-state fortunes in winner-take-all Florida.

If Romney had wanted to run for president, he should have put his name on the ballot, but to provide Democrats general-election fodder against one of the two GOP presidential aspirants with a chance to win is self-defeating. What's more, if Romney truly wanted to stop Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDems flip Wisconsin state Senate seat Sessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants GOP rep: 'Sheet metal and garbage' everywhere in Haiti MORE, he should have joined Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamDHS chief takes heat over Trump furor Overnight Defense: GOP chair blames Dems for defense budget holdup | FDA, Pentagon to speed approval of battlefield drugs | Mattis calls North Korea situation 'sobering' Bipartisan group to introduce DACA bill in House MORE (R-S.C.) and grudgingly conceded that only Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzWith religious liberty memo, Trump made America free to be faithful again Interstate compacts aren't the right way to fix occupational licensing laws Texas Dem: ‘I don’t know what to believe’ about what Trump wants for wall MORE (R-Texas) can beat him with this front-loaded primary system, and privately called Rubio telling him to stop delivering delegates to Trump and to get out of the race.

Instead, providing additional evidence that the GOP consultant class still doesn't get it, the Romney diatribe against Trump will only serve to lock in Trump voters and reinforce the "us versus them" perception that separates the average GOP voter from the political party bosses in D.C. who despise them.

The truth is that the more the establishment attacks Trump, the more Trump's vote amongst the flyover conservative base expands, and the fact that the two front-runners are not part of the cool clique at the Capitol Hill Club clearly scares the heck out of them.

In fact, if they really wanted to #neverTrump, they would have announced their endorsement of Trump's candidacy, saying that they knew they could work with him because they have in the past, while identifying Cruz as the real enemy who has spent his time in office excoriating their corporate crony ways.

If Romney had delivered that speech, it would have had the benefit of both being true and damaging to Trump.

Manning is president of Americans for Limited Government.