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No Matter What Trump Said In Utah, a 'Sen. Romney' Looms Large In Its Future

No Matter What Trump Said In Utah, a 'Sen. Romney' Looms Large In Its Future
Mitt Romney (Getty Images)

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Tuesday, 05 December 2017 12:00 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Few—if any—close observers of Utah politics doubted for a moment what President Donald Trump meant in Salt Lake City Monday afternoon when he praised Sen. Orrin Hatch and voiced hope that the seven-term Republican “will serve your state and your country in the Senate for a long time to come.”

At a time when it is widely assumed that Hatch, 83, will soon announce he is retiring from the Senate next year, the President is clearly hoping the senator will change his mind and thus stop the expected candidacy of the Republican widely considered heir apparent to his seat: Mitt Romney, 2012 Republican presidential hopeful and a sworn enemy of Trump.

But, almost to a person, sources in the Beehive State Republican Party told that Newsmax Trump’s hope of stopping Romney with a late-blooming Hatch bid for re-election is fantasy. Hatch, president pro tem of the Senate, is reportedly committed to a formal announcement not to run again sometime in January.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Romney, 70, has sent strong signals he wants to represent in the Senate the state in which he has resided since losing the presidency five years ago. What is particularly interesting is that all potentially strong opposition to him for the Republican nomination has faded, despite the hostility toward him from state and national conservatives.

Rob Wasinger, a veteran of the Trump campaign and transition team, seemed to speak for many on the right when he warned in Breitbart: “[Romney’s] work to derail Trump’s candidacy last cycle in key battleground states cost the president dearly by suppressing the Republican vote, and coupled with Mitt’s messianic ego that seems impervious to political reality, a perch in the Senate would make him a serious impediment to Trump’s re-election bid in 2020.”

But conservatives in Utah just haven’t seen it that way. For different reasons, Romney is revered in his adopted state. The Romney family’s Utah branch is a large one, with Mitt’s cousin Vernon Romney serving as state attorney general from 1968 to 1976.

As the first Mormon to be nominated for president by a major party, Mitt Romney himself enjoys a special warmth in the state that is home to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His passionate defense of his faith from attacks during the 2012 campaign won him admiration among fellow Mormons.

Accordingly, challenges to a Romney Senate bid have just not materialized. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, a 2012 GOP presidential hopeful and no friend of Romney’s, was reportedly poised for a Senate bid until President Trump named him ambassador to Russia. Reps. Mia Love and Chris Stewart are likely to forego a race if Romney runs for the Senate. Boyd Matheson, former top aide to Sen. Mike Lee (R.-Utah), announced recently he was not running after Breitbart's Steve Bannon and other conservatives boomed him as a formidable “anti-Romney.”

“I thought about the race, but I also realize that I could do better developing leadership for the future rather than being one of 100,” Matheson, president of the conservative Sutherland Institute, told Newsmax, “Right now, we are in a situation where only a few individuals frame the conversation. That’s got to change if the conservative movement is to triumph.”

So, for now, it appears as though the Republican nomination for the Senate from Utah is Mitt Romney’s for the asking.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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Few-if any-close observers of Utah politics doubted for a moment what President Trump meant in Salt Lake City Monday afternoon when he praised Sen. Orrin Hatch and voiced hope that the seven-term Republican "will serve your state and your country in the Senate for a long...
trump, utah, romney, senate
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2017-00-05
Tuesday, 05 December 2017 12:00 AM
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