Failed 2012 presidential candidate and Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney officially announced his intention to run for U.S. Senate in Utah. If he wins, Romney will likely become one of the Trump administration’s biggest critics in the GOP.
Romney, 70, released a short video Friday announcing his candidacy and promising to combat political extremism in Washington.
“Utah is a better model for Washington than Washington is for Utah,” Romney said.
At one point in the video, the candidate took what seemed a lot like a swipe at President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.
“Utah welcomes immigrants from around the world,” he said. “Washington sends immigrants a message of exclusion.”
If it was a swipe at Trump, it certainly wouldn’t come as a surprise. Ahead of the 2016 presidential primary, remember, Romney flat out attacked Trump in a last ditch effort to block him from securing the GOP nomination.
“Here’s what I know: Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud,” Romney said at the time.
“His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University,” he added. “He’s playing members of the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House, and all we get is a lousy hat.”
Since becoming president, Trump has attempted to repay the favor. Late last year, Trump traveled to Utah in an effort to convince Sen. Orin Hatch not to give Romney a path to the Senate by retiring.
As POLITICO reported in December:
Romney has been preparing to run for Hatch’s seat on the long-held assumption that the 83-year-old would retire. Yet Hatch, the longest-serving Republican senator in history, is now refusing to rule out another campaign — a circumstance Romney’s infuriated inner circle blames squarely on the president. Their suspicions are warranted: Trump has sounded off to friends about how he doesn’t like the idea of a Sen. Romney.
The president’s mostly behind-the-scenes campaign to sway Hatch will burst into public view on Monday, when he arrives in Salt Lake City to hold a well-choreographed event designed to showcase his affection for the powerful Senate Finance Committee chairman.
Trump’s appearance is ostensibly official in purpose: He will announce his decision to reduce the size of Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand-Staircase Escalante national monuments, a cause that Hatch has championed. But it’s also undeniably political: to use the trappings of presidential power to get a veteran lawmaker to rethink his long anticipated plans to leave the Senate.
Romney in the Senate means a huge opportunity for the GOP establishment to anoint him as the opposition within the majority it needs to help push back against certain Trump policies.