Mitt Romney: I gave that speech because history will one day ask, "What did you do to stop Donald Trump?"

History and his grandchildren -- but presumably he's more concerned with the former than the latter

Published March 4, 2016 1:27PM (EST)

Mitt Romney (Credit: NBC News)
Mitt Romney (Credit: NBC News)

Former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney spoke to Matt Lauer on NBC's "Today" show Friday morning to discuss his "unprecedented" decision to attack GOP front-runner Donald Trump hours before a debate.

"The people who think you're a hero" for criticizing Trump are asking a question, Lauer began, which is "why did you wait so long?"

"I've wanted to be involved in the campaign as a referee, and if there were a few foul balls, I could keep them guided on the path to becoming the next president," Romney said, clearly unaware of which sports metaphor he was employing.

"The time came when Trump's outrage made me have to speak out," he added, "because it comes to the point where your grandchildren are going to say, 'Poppa, what did you do to stop Donald Trump?'"

Lauer replied that "experts are calling this an 'unprecedented' event in modern political history, a former nominee in a party issuing a scathing take-down of the current front-runner."

"But this isn't a typical nominee," he added, stating the obvious, "this is a man who's survived moments in this campaign that would've derailed anybody else. Do you think your speech will matter?"

"I don't know if it will or not, but I couldn't not speak anymore," Romney replied.

Watch the entire interview with Romney below via NBC News.

By Scott Eric Kaufman

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2016 Gop Primary Elections 2016 Matt Lauer Mitt Romney Nbc News Today Video