Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump ripped into former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney at a pre-debate rally in Portland, Maine, on Thursday.
"He's a choke artist... He choked like I've never seen anyone choke," Trump said of Romney, who held a press conference in Utah earlier in the day in which he blasted Trump's candidacy, calling him "a phony" and "a fraud." Trump criticized Romney for his loss to President Barack Obama in 2012.
"Mitt was a disaster of a candidate. He let us down," Trump said. "That was a race that should have been won."
He also spoke of how Romney "begged" him for his endorsement in 2012. "I could have said, 'Mitt, drop to your knees.'"
Trump said Romney "chickened out," and decided not to run this time because he was afraid to run against him.
Though most of his remarks focused on Romney, Trump attacked Republican opponent Marco Rubio as well, calling him "a lightweight." He also said he's looking forward to running against Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
Republican Gov. Paul LePage joined Trump at the rally. LePage has joked on several occasions that he provided the template for being an outspoken politician.
"Donald Trump is a little bit like I am," LePage said Thursday. "He is not afraid of the political establishment."
About 100 people protested Trump's visit Thursday, holding signs that said "Drump Trump" and "Love always trumps hate." At least four protesters were thrown out of the rally itself, which was held at the Westin Portland Harborview Hotel Ballroom.
Republican candidate Ted Cruz is scheduled to visit the University of Maine in Orono on Friday, and Democratic contender Bernie Sanders held a rally in Portland on Wednesday.
Both Maine's Republican and Democratic caucuses are scheduled to be held this weekend.