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Erie County GOP head calls Romney a ‘has been,’ endorses Trump

Mitt Romney’s call for voters to reject Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy went over with a thud in Erie County Republican Headquarters Thursday.

It prompted Chairman Nicholas A. Langworthy to denounce the 2012 GOP candidate for president as a “has been,” “a failed candidate,” and ”a joke,” accusing him of maneuvering to become this year’s nominee. And though Langworthy has been inching toward Trump this year, Romney’s morning speech also pushed him to officially declare his endorsement – one of the first major New York chairmen to do so.

On the eve of the Republican State Convention in the Marriott HarborCenter beginning Friday morning, the day’s events set the stage for New York Republicans to grapple here in Buffalo with a rapidly developing presidential situation – all revolving around Trump.

“I think Mitt Romney is way overestimating his ability to influence the presidential selection process,” Langworthy said. “People don’t care what a has been politician like Mitt Romney has to say about this race.”

Just hours after the former Massachusetts governor denounced Trump as a “phony” and a “fraud,” Langworthy told reporters Romney was playing into the hands of Trump supporters rebelling against establishment types and insiders angling to thwart the will of primary voters.

“They are as angry as they ever have been about the ‘establishment’ of their party,” Langworthy said of GOP voters. “This is not some cabal that is going to make a decision to throw whoever is the nominee overboard.”

He also said he believes Romney may be angling to promote his own 2016 candidacy after being scared off by Jeb Bush early in the process.

“This is really gratuitous, and fairly unprecedented for the former go on a tirade for the prospective nominee,” he said. “It’s absolutely ridiculous.”

More than 300 Republicans from across the state are convening at the Marriott Friday to nominate attorney Wendy Long as the opponent for Democratic incumbent Sen. Charles E. Schumer in November.