Mitt Romney & Utah
Do you remember Mitt Romney of Utah? He was the Republicans’ candidate to run against Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election. He may have a better chance now, given the anti-Russia McCarthyism in Washington. After all, it was Romney in the debates against Obama, who was presenting Russia as the United States’ biggest geopolitical threat.
Indeed, in a satiric twist worthy of Henry Louis Mencken, it was Obama himself–the first to formally accuse Russian interference in the 2016 election–tried to score political points, mocking Romney’s alleged Russo-phobia. “After all, you don’t call Russia our No. 1 enemy — not Al-Qaida, Russia — unless you’re still stuck in a Cold War mind warp,” said Obama about Romney’s stance. (Source: “Obama says Romney called Russia our ‘No. 1 enemy,’” Politifact, September 12, 2012.)
Given the Cold War-like political air circulating in the United States now–even colder than the weather–Romney may well use that reputation to his advantage. The incumbent senator for Utah is Republican Orrin Hatch. Last October, Hatch said he would retire if Romney were to run to replace him. (Source: “Utah Senator says he may forgo ’18 run if Mitt Romney runs for his seat,” The Boston Globe, March 31, 2017.)
On January 2, Hatch, a seven-term senator, confirmed he will retire, leaving the part wide open for Romney. There are two potential obstacles for the former governor of Massachusetts, however. One is his physical address and the other is the fact he has been an ardent critic of President Donald Trump. Nevertheless, the obstacles are much easier to solve than they first appear.
Mitt Romney Twitter Location Change
Where does Mitt Romney live? As for the first problem, his residence, there’s a quick fix. Mitt Romney has made a Twitter location change from Massachusetts to Holladay, Utah, where he owns a house. The timing seems more than a mere coincidence, given Senator Hatch’s retirement and related speculations. Thus Romney, a Mormon, can easily bypass the residence concerns. (Source: “Mitt Romney changes his Twitter location from Massachusetts to Utah amidst Senate run speculation,” ABC News, January 3, 2018.)
Mitt Romney for Senate? The bigger problem stems from the fact that Romney has been an ardent Trump critic. That means, unlike the case of Roy Moore in Alabama, Romney cannot–and most probably does not–expect much support from Trump. Trump is enjoying a good moment among Senate republicans. The president’s determination to formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the passing of the tax reform just before last Christmas have likely won over many Republican skeptics. It may be too late, however, for Romney to pass himself off as a Trump backer now. It would seem phony and could rile up Trump further. The best card that Romney can play is to present himself as Hatch’s rightful heir, given the retiring senator’s enviable electoral success.
Meanwhile, Romney has yet to confirm his candidacy, fueling rumors. He’s probably probing the surface to get a better idea of his chances. For a state that has had a Republican senator for so long, it would be especially embarrassing for Romney to be the first to lose to a Democrat. So his hesitation is understandable.
Look Out for Mitt Romney During the PyeongChang Winter Olympics
For now, the former Massachusetts governor has been happy not to deny the rumors. Moreover, Romney enjoys a popular following in Utah and among fellow Mormons, especially because of his religious denomination; the western state of the United States has a large Mormon population of which it is a part. There’s little doubt Utah is Mitt Romney’s State.
If Romney decides to run, he will likely make his announcement during the 23rd edition of the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, which will begin on February 9, 2018. Why would he do that? Romney was in charge of the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah. He’s widely credited as having saved them from an embarrassing financial scandal. The Games made his political reputation. PyeongChang 2018 would create a perfect backstage to relaunch his political career.
And who knows? Romney, who declared Trump “unfit to serve” in a famous speech in March 2016, might find a way to reconcile. Romney has toned down his criticism of the President after the 2016 election. Perhaps Romney was already pondering a return to politics in 2016 and decided to take a shot a Trump, when it was still possible for Trump not to win the nomination, let alone the election. (Source: “Say it again, Mitt Romney: Trump is unfit to serve,” The Washington Post, January 3, 2018.)
Had Trump not won, Romney would have looked like a hero of sorts, and he would even have gained some support from centrist Democrats. Rumors even suggested Trump considered appointing Romney as Secretary of State. Certainly, Romney has shown diplomatic tact in his dealings with Trump since November 2016; he should have a smooth race.