Updated with Donald Trump’s response to Mitt Romney’s speech: Mitt Romney is “irrelevant” and a “failed candidate” who was so desperate for Trump’s endorsement when he ran for the White House, “I could have said, ‘Mitt, drop to your knees; he would have dropped.”

“He was begging me” for support, Trump added at a raucous rally in Maine, interrupted three times while security ejected protesters.

Romney wanted to run again this time, Trump insisted, but backed down because he was “afraid of me.”

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In his speech this morning blasting Trump, Romney had advised voters to “watch how he responds to my speech today. Will he talk about our policy differences or will he attack me with every imaginable low-road insult,” he said, forecasting the “drop to his knees” line. “It will tell you everything you need to know” about his suitability for office, Romney said.

After Trump’s rally wrapped, Romney responded to the less vulgar bits, via Twitter:

PREVIOUSLY, 9:14 AM: “Here’s what I know: Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud,” 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney warned voters in a speech, hours before Fox News Channel’s GOP debate in Detroit. Before he’d uttered a word, TV news political pundits were calling the GOP poobahs’ hastily organized dump-Trump event “Too little, too stupid.”

“His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University,” the GOP establishment’s messenger-of-choice in its campaign to dump Trump charged during his speech exhorting fellow Republicans to shun the real estate mogul-turned-reality TV star. “He’s playing the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House, and all we get is a lousy hat.”

Romney endorsed the idea of a brokered GOP convention, urging voters in the home states of the GOP’s other presidential hopefuls to vote for them over Trump, to make sure he has not banked the magic number of 1,237 delegates before the confab. And while political pundits (including many regulars on TV news) have said it’s too late to stop Trump, “the rules of political history have all been shredded during this campaign,” Romney assured

More where that came from: “His domestic policies would lead to recession. His foreign policies would make America and the world less safe. He has neither the temperament nor the judgement to be president. And his personal qualities would mean that America would cease to be a ‘shining city on a hill,'” the mild-mannered fellow billionaire added, playing the Ronald Reagan card.

Trump is a greedy, misogynistic bully whose third-grade theatrics disqualify him for the White House, Romney blasted, noting he’s “mocked a disabled reporter, attributed a reporter’s question to her menstrual cycle, bragged about marital affairs and laced public speech with vulgarity. He says he admires Vladimir Putin and called George W. Bush a liar. That is a twisted example of evil ‘Trumping’ good,” Romney snarked. (The “menstrual cycle” mention refers to Trump’s response to FNC star Megyn Kelly’s very first question at this presidential cycle’s very first GOP debate. Kelly will again put questions to candidates tonight, including Trump, who boycotted another recent FNC debate, citing Kelly as the reason. Deadline will live blog the debate.)

Long before giving this televised speech to a University of Utah crowd, the former businessman-turned-Massachusetts governor-turned 2012 Republican presidential nominee had gotten loads of airtime in his newest gig as the face of the anti-Trump movement in the party. Previously he’s denounced his party’s front-runner with calls for Trump to release his tax returns and generally questioned Trump’s fitness as commander in chief.

Today, Romney said to Trump’s fans assertions he is a huge business success who knows what he’s talking about, “No he isn’t, and no he doesn’t. His bankruptcies have crushed small businesses,” Romney said. “He inherited his business.” He then ticked off some failed businesses with the Trump name attached including Trump magazine, Trump vodka, Trump steaks, Trump University.
“A business genius he is not,” Romney said, in marked contrast to his praise of Trump not so long ago when Trump was endorsing his own campaign.

Romney also took some whacks at Dem front-runner Hillary Clinton who, he warned, has a path to the White House in a Trump GOP nomination. “A person so untrustworthy and and dishonest … must not become president,” Romney warned.

Trump got out ahead of this morning’s attack, giving interviews to morning infotainment programs, during which he assured Today’s Matt Lauer “I will have a presidential demeanor if I win” – but maybe not at tonight’s debate because he has to defend himself from attacks by the other candidates. Trump also reminded Lauer that Romney “begged me four years ago for my endorsement, literally begged me” noted he was a “horrible candidate,” who “didn’t know what he was doing,” and was a “stiff.” Previously Trump has mocked Romney’s walk.

Trump’s camp also has been running video of candidate Romney in ’12 simpering how “honored” he was by Trump’s endorsement.

Before Romney’s speech Trump had pre-emptively tweeted: