Mitt Romney formally announces run for Senate

  • Mitt Romney has formally announced that he will run for US Senate in Utah.
  • Romney will seek to replace Sen. Orrin Hatch, the long-serving Republican who announced his retirement in January.

Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee, on Friday officially announced a run for the US Senate in Utah.

Romney teased the announcement last week but delayed the formal declaration from Thursday because of the school shooting in Florida.

“I am running for United States Senate to serve the people of Utah and bring Utah’s values to Washington,” Romney tweeted along with a video.

The long-serving Utah Republican Orrin Hatch announced his retirement in January, setting off speculation that Romney could vie for Hatch’s Senate seat.

“Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in Washington,” Romney said, adding: “Utah welcomes legal immigrants from around the world. Washington sends immigrants a message of exclusion. And on Utah’s Capitol Hill, people treat one another with respect.”

Romney has been a critic of President Donald Trump since before the 2016 election. Romney called Trump a “fraud” and a “phony” during a speech in 2016. Though he briefly seemed to reconcile with Trump after the election and was viewed as a candidate for secretary of state, Romney later resumed his criticism, especially over the president’s response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. Romney also criticised Roy Moore, the Republican candidate for US Senate in Alabama whom Trump endorsed despite allegations of sexual misconduct.

Early polling has shown Romney with a commanding lead in the race; a poll in January showed Romney with a lead of 64% to 19% over the Democrat Jenny Wilson. The former Massachusetts governor moved to Holladay, Utah, after his 2012 loss to President Barack Obama.

Interestingly, the head of Utah’s Republican Party blasted Romney’s run, comparing it unfavorably to Hillary Clinton running for Senate in New York.

“I think he’s keeping out candidates that I think would be a better fit for Utah because, let’s face it, Mitt Romney doesn’t live here, his kids weren’t born here, he doesn’t shop here,” the Utah Republican Party chairman, Rob Anderson, told The Salt Lake Tribune.

Anderson later said he did not mean to “disparage” Romney. House Speaker Paul Ryan, who campaigned as Romney’s running mate in 2012, expressed support for the candidate in a statement Friday.

“I was honored to join Mitt Romney on the national ticket in 2012 and couldn’t be happier that he’s running for this seat,” Ryan said. “Our party and our country are always better off when Mitt is engaged, and I know that he will put his unparalleled experience, conservative leadership, and lifetime of service to work for Utah in the US Senate. Janna and I adore Mitt and Ann. His campaign has my unwavering support, and the people of Utah will be getting an accomplished and decent man when they make him their next senator.”

Watch the announcement:

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