Mitt Romney, former US Republican presidential candidate and a prominent critic of President Donald Trump, announced today he will run for a Senate seat from Utah.
The declaration via a video announcement confirmed speculations.
“I have decided to run for United States Senate because I believe I can help bring Utah’s values and Utah’s lessons to Washington,” he says in the clip.
Until relatively recently, this would have been an unlikely path for Romney, who retreated from the national spotlight after losing the 2012 presidential election to then-President Barack Obama. But Romney has re-emerged on the political scene as a powerful voice calling out the inflammatory statements and conduct of President Donald Trump.
Romney’s fiery rebukes of Trump’s crude comments on topics ranging from the character of Mexican immigrants to sexual harassment made him a hero of the #NeverTrump movement and a set of Democratic admirers.
His criticism of Trump has been especially notable considering the President once considered him as a candidate for secretary of state, a courtship that many friends of Romney later viewed as a token gesture by Trump to generate publicity.
Romney avoided direct broadsides at the President Friday, though he did say 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 is running to replace retiring GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch. In the video, he focused on the challenges and opportunities facing Utah, a state where he established his permanent residency in 2014.
The 2012 presidential nominee said he was seeking the new role because he hoped to replicate some of Utah’s policy and economic successes at the national level — from curbing government spending to enhancing bipartisan collaboration on legislation in Washington.
“Utah is a better model for Washington than Washington is for Utah,” he says in the video.
Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, is expected to have an easy race because of his enormous popularity in Utah, where he attended college at Brigham Young University and has long owned a home in Park City. Beyond his deep connections to the Mormon church, he drew broad admiration from Utahns after helping to turn around the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic games.