Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

AP Sources: Romney to Launch Senate Campaign Today; by Michelle L. Price and Steve Peoples

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

AP Sources: Romney to Launch Senate Campaign Today; by Michelle L. Price and Steve Peoples

Article excerpt

Byline: The Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY -- Former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney will announce today that he's running for the Utah Senate seat held by retiring Orrin Hatch, three people with direct knowledge of the plan confirmed Wednesday.

He'll be a heavy favorite to keep the seat in Republican hands.

The 70-year-old Romney, once a harsh critic of President Donald Trump, will release an online video today announcing his Senate bid. His first public appearance as a Senate candidate will come Friday night at a county Republican dinner in Provo.

Those with knowledge of his plans spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly.

Despite a drama-filled history with Trump, Romney is not expected to address the combative president directly in the announcement video. Those close to him say he plans a hyper-local focus on Utah issues throughout the Senate campaign.

His announcement video will suggest that Washington has much to learn from Utah.

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and one of the most famous Mormons, is widely liked and respected in Utah, which is heavily Mormon.

He moved to Utah after losing the 2012 presidential election. That was a decade after he helped turn around the scandal-plagued 2002 Winter Olympics.

In addition to his instant name recognition, Romney has a deep network of fundraisers and his own personal wealth to help carry him. Those close to him suggest he will not seek financial aid from any super PACs or Washington-based campaign committees.

If he becomes Utah's next senator, some supporters hope that the one-time Trump critic could serve as a political and moral counterweight to a president they see as divisive, erratic and undignified.

During the 2016 presidential election, Romney gave a scathing speech in which he called Trump "a phony" who was "playing the American public for suckers" and was unfit to be president.

He softened his stance after Trump won the presidency and put himself forward as a candidate for secretary of state. But he resumed his criticism last year, calling out the president for blaming "both sides" following a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. …

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