Romney greets Cedar City diners, explains why he’s running for Hatch’s senate seat

CEDAR CITY — In his first week on the campaign trail, Mitt Romney is already making the rounds in his bid to become U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch’s successor.

Romney, who officially announced his candidacy last week, is one of several GOP candidates who are seeking a spot on the ballot for Utah’s primary election in June. Ever since the 83-year-old Hatch, now in his last year of his seventh and final term, said he wouldn’t be running again, interest in the senate race has been high, with several candidates already throwing their hats into the ring.

U.S. Senate candidate Mitt Romney greets a fellow diner customer at the Brick House Cafe, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 22, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Thursday afternoon, Romney and a few of his staffers had lunch at downtown Cedar City’s Brick House Cafe, where they were joined by St. George News/Cedar City News.

In between bites of his turkey sandwich and french fries, Romney made his way around the restaurant, greeting fellow diners and posing for cell phone photos.

Romney said he has already made stops in Weber and Sanpete counties since officially beginning his campaign last week, and plans to visit all of Utah’s 29 counties.

“What I’m doing is going across the state because I want to see every corner of the state and make sure that everything that’s happening in Washington is not hurting, but instead helping the people of Utah,” he said. “We began up in Ogden, the other corner of the state. We’re down here right now, this weekend, making sure we get a chance to see as many people as we can.”

Romney said he likes to sometimes pop in somewhere for an unannounced visit. “We’ll just pull into a local diner and talk to people in the diner to understand what’s on their minds, and make sure that whatever I can do, if I’m lucky enough to become a U.S. senator, is going to help people who depend upon the government to do the right thing,” he said.

Utah roots

Romney also said even though he grew up in Michigan and served as governor of Massachusetts from 2003-07, he still has strong Utah roots.

“I think it’s a very appropriate question for people to ask: What are your roots here in Utah?” he said “Actually they go back very long and very deep. My great-great-grandfather was the architect of the St. George Tabernacle and worked on the temple also. … My mom and dad were both raised in the greater Salt Lake area. But indeed I was born in Michigan, where my parents lived at the time, and I lived in Massachusetts where my first job came.”

“I’ve had three occasions to live in Utah,” he said. “One was here going to school, which was a great experience. And then came back for the Olympics (in 2002). And then after the (2008 presidential) campaign was over, we decided to make Utah our permanent home.”

U.S. Senate candidate Mitt Romney greets fellow customers at the Brick House Cafe, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 22, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Romney and his wife Ann have resided in the Holladay area for the past 10 years, he said.

“We’ve lived in the state and I care very deeply about Utah. This is a place in my culture, my heritage, my ancestors have been here. My ancestors are buried here. And I care very deeply about what the state has to say for the country because the kinds of values you see here in Utah, our values, I think we need to see in Washington.”

Following Orrin Hatch

Romney said that while Hatch’s shoes won’t be easy to fill, he believes he is suited for the task.

“I think one of the challenges we face as a state is that we’re losing someone like Senator Hatch, who has been such an effective senator and has such long tenure in the senate. Part of that tenure gives him, if you will, official power, but part of his tenure has been associated with his connections with other people,” Romney said. “I hope that by being a new senator, having also been a candidate for president, my relationship with a number of senators, mostly Republican, but some Democrat … those relationships will allow me to do more for Utah and I think I’ll be able to make a difference for the people of Utah.”

“Look, I’m a conservative Republican,” he added. “That means low taxes, low regulation and, by the way, I’m probably more of a deficit hawk than your average Republican.”

Challenges that Utah faces

Romney said he is particularly interested in helping address some of the state’s key issues, particularly those related to growth, employment, land use, and land and water management

“As you think about what’s happening in the rural parts of our state, we’ve got 11 counties in Utah that are really suffering a recession,” he said. “They are shrinking instead of growing and I want to make sure and help those rural communities.”

Romney said he also favors looking into experimenting with giving states more control of federal lands, particularly in areas that involve the Antiquities Act and the Endangered Species Act.

“Both of those need to be, I think, reformed in light of how they’ve been applied across our country,” Romney said.

“Those are some of the things I’ll work on from day one,” he said.

Pres. Trump

U.S. Senate candidate Mitt Romney poses with fellow diners at the Brick House Cafe, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 22, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Shortly after Romney announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate last week, President Donald Trump tweeted his endorsement of Romney. Romney said despite their past differences, he and Trump are aligned on many issues.

“The president’s first year has been, I think very revealing about what his policies will be like and what kind of president he wants to be,” Romney said. “On a … domestic policy front in particular, we are very much on the same page. He’s lowered taxes. I wanted to bring the corporate rate down to 25. He took it to 21. So same page, but a little difference.”

Romney also said Trump “has worked to deregulate a lot of what’s happening out of Washington and make government’s footprint a little smaller. Those are all things I agree with.’

“Now, of course, now and then he might say or do something that I think is wrong and I’ll point that out,” Romney added. “I’ll call him like I see him, but the president and I get along and respect each other. And, I hope that if I get to be a U.S. senator, my relationship with him and with people in the White House as well as with people in the Senate and the House, including the speaker of the House, my former running mate, would allow me to get more things done that’ll help people in Utah and the country.”

Thursday evening, Romney is scheduled join at least two other GOP candidates for Utah’s U.S. Senate seat at the Iron County Republican Party Lincoln Day dinner, featuring keynote speaker Ron Paul. Fellow U.S. Senate candidates Larry Meyers and Tim Jimenez have also said they plan to be in attendance at the $100 per plate fundraising event.

The dinner is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m., but members of the public are invited to attend a free “meet and greet” session with the various candidates starting at 5 p.m. The event is at the Great Hall in the Hunter Conference Center on the Southern Utah University campus.

In addition to the U.S. Senate candidates, various GOP candidates running in Iron County’s 2018 elections will also each have the opportunity to address the audience for three minutes each, event organizers said. These include candidates for county commission, sheriff, attorney and other local races.

Email: jrichards@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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Posted in Elections 2018, Government, Local, NewsTagged , , ,

8 Comments

  • John February 22, 2018 at 5:44 pm

    Judging from the pictures , 6 people showed up..Yup! Overwhelming support..GET LOST MITTENS

  • Caveat_Emptor February 22, 2018 at 6:32 pm

    As a 22-year Utah resident, I never understood the affection for Hatch, since during my residency he seemed to represent his campaign donors, more than his constituents. Hatch enjoyed enormous support from the MLM organizations in Utah and SL Counties, selling nutraceuticals, and did his best to keep the FDA from oversight of this industry because the science demonstrates their lack of effectiveness. This was in top of his worship of PharMA.
    Now, we get a recent part-time resident, who did successfully manage the 2002 Winter Games, (by swooping in during the later stages after the locals had caused their own downfall), as the shoo-in Senate candidate…….
    Those of us who followed the 2012 Presidential Election cycle, saw Mitt Romney for who he is: a successful venture capitalist, who has the reputation in the political realm for being a “flip-flopper”, earned before 2012. He called out Cheeto for what he really is, a phony and a fraud, then turns around and sucks up for a shot at Secretary of State. The politically correct term is “evolving opinion” but some of us see it as simply: pandering……
    Utah deserves better, although Short-sale Mike Lee is not exactly top talent, although he is a Utahn…..

  • voice of reason February 23, 2018 at 6:54 am

    The restaurant is the “Brick House Cafe”, not brick oven cafe. The caption is wrong on every single picture.

    • Jeff Richards Jeff Richards February 23, 2018 at 7:14 am

      Thanks. Captions have been updated.

  • voice of reason February 23, 2018 at 8:04 am

    Thank you for updating it!

  • Tim February 23, 2018 at 12:11 pm

    All I’ve found our about Mitt R is that he will be a big govt republican just like Sen Hatch. We don’t need another person in DC that will vote for every spending cap increase he can. We don’t need the fed to be more involved in our lives. We need someone in DC that believes the Constitution is not negotiable. That will cut DC spending and give power and responsibility back to the states where it belongs. There is no Constitutional basis for the Dept’s of Ed, Ag, Int and many others. America needs people in DC that hate bureaucracy and waste. Mitt isn’t that guy.

  • Vicky February 24, 2018 at 7:28 am

    We know why he’s wants Hatch’s spot. He wants to belly up to the trough for money, money, money. Just like Hatch. BTW He is an animal abuser.

  • Vicky February 24, 2018 at 7:31 am

    Ooops. Could not edit previous comment. Should be “he” not “he’s”.

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