WASHINGTON: Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee for the White House, said Friday he will vote for Ted Cruz in next week’s Utah primary, all but endorsing the arch-conservative senator as he seeks to derail Donald Trump’s nomination bid. Romney, who has led the charge among party elites to prevent the celebrity billionaire from becoming the Republican standardbearer, said on Facebook that he was encouraging others to vote for Cruz as a firewall against what he called “Trumpism.” “Through the calculated statements of its leader, Trumpism has become associated with racism, misogyny, bigotry, xenophobia, vulgarity and, most recently, threats and violence. I am repulsed by each and every one of these,” Romney said. “The only path that remains to nominate a Republican rather than Mr. Trump is to have an open convention,” Romney added, referring to the rare situation in which delegates gather for their party convention with no candidate having the majority needed to seize the nomination outright. “At this stage, the only way we can reach an open convention is for Senator Cruz to be successful in as many of the remaining nominating elections as possible.” Romney still holds considerable sway in Utah after overseeing the rescue of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, which were called into jeopardy amid a bribery scandal. The state votes next Tuesday along with Arizona. Trump swiftly responded to Romney, whom he blamed for leading a lackluster campaign against President Barack Obama four years ago. “Failed presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the man who ‘choked’ and let us all down, is now endorsing Lyin’ Ted Cruz. This is good for me!” Trump posted to his seven million Twitter followers. Of those left in the race, Trump leads with 683 delegates, followed by Cruz who has amassed 421, according to the latest CNN estimate. Ohio Governor John Kasich pulls up the rear with 145 delegates.