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Is Mitt Romney about to become the next Jeb Bush?

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The GOP’s standard-bearer in 2012 is preparing to dive into the 2016 melee later today, with a hard-hitting speech against Donald Trump that will call him out as a “phony” and a “fraud,” according to prepared remarks that were given to the press. “His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University,” he plans to thunder at at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. “He’s playing the American public for suckers,” the remarks continue. “He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat.”

Donald Trump has responded in typical fashion, noting—not unreasonably!—that Romney sought his endorsement in 2012, when Trump was the leader of the birther movement.

We have noted before that Romney has a special aptitude for needling Trump. But the speech reads as if he’s going into full, high-horse, stentorian Republican establishment mode. Is this really going to convince any of Trump’s supporters? Or is Romney setting himself up to become the latest in a long line of establishment figures pushed into irrelevance by Trump’s movement? The safe bet, as usual this election season, is on Trump.