ST. GEORGE – Anticipated to officially nnounce his bid for retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch’s Senate seat Thursday, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said over Twitter that he will be delaying this announcement in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida Wednesday.
The shooting left 17 dead and the shooter is in custody.
“As a father and grandfather, my heart aches for the victims of today’s tragic events. My prayers go out to all of the families and loved ones affected by this senseless act of violence>” Romney wrote. “Out of respect for the victims and their families, I will not be making an announcement tomorrow about the Senate race.”
As a father and grandfather, my heart aches for the victims of today’s tragic events. My prayers go out to all of the families and loved ones affected by this senseless act of violence. (1/2)
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) February 15, 2018
Out of respect for the victims and their families, I will not be making an announcement tomorrow about the Senate race. (2/2)
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) February 15, 2018
Updated Feb. 14, 5:45 p.m. – Romney anounced via Twitter he is postponing his Senate race announcment out of respect for the victims of the Florida school shooting,
Romney was reportedly set to officially announce Thursday that he’s running for Senate. While he has gained support and encouragement to run for the seat long-held by retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch, the state’s GOP chair has a difference of opinion.
The Associated Press reported Wednesday that anonymous sources with direct knowledge of Romney’s plans say the former governor and 2012 presidential candidate will make his announcement in a video to be released Thursday.
“Stay tuned for my announcement on the Utah Senate race this Thursday,” Romney wrote on his Facebook page Monday.
Following Thursday’s announcement, Romney is scheduled to appear at the Utah County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day dinner event Friday.
The 70-year-old Romney is seen as a safe bet to keep Hatch’s seat in Republican hands once he steps down at the end of 2018. Among those who have publicly expressed their desire for Romney to run have been Gov. Gary Herbert and Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox. Hatch has also said he would like Romney – or someone very much like Romney – to replace him.
Herbert was quoted last month as saying he considered Romney a “great, qualified and capable” candidate. The governor also said he believes voters will rally around Romney as well.
“We have have people out there, but certainly, when it comes to polling, and who I think has the best chance of winning – there’s nobody better than Mitt Romney,” Herbert said.
Not everyone is singing Romney’s praises, however, as Utah GOP chair Rob Anderson told The Salt Tribune that Romney is doing to Utah what Hillary Clinton did to New York by campaigning in a state he hasn’t lived in.
“I think he’s keeping out candidates that I think would be a better fit for Utah, because let’s face it, Mitt Romney doesn’t live here, his kids weren’t born here, he doesn’t shop here,” Anderson told the Tribune.
Romney is likely to be an instant front-runner should he step into the Senate race, Anderson said, which will deter other, potentially better candidates from running in order to avoid a David and Goliath situation.
Anderson also said Romney wasn’t a supporter of President Donald Trump, adding that he would like a candidate who actually supported the party platforms.
Trump and Romney haven’t had the best of political relationships in the past, as Romney referred to Trump as “a fraud” who had “neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president” during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Trump, in turn, has criticized Romney for his failed presidential bids in 2008 and 2012, saying he “choked like a dog.”
However, Romney is still popular in Utah where he is held up as the man who led a turnaround of the scandal-plagued 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, as well as a prominent Mormon businessman and politician in the state that is home to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Originally hailing from Michigan and Massachusetts, Romney bought a home in Utah within the last few years.
Others who have declared their intent to run for Hatch’s seat in 2018 include Democrat Jenny Wilson, who currently serves on the Salt Lake County Council, and Republican Larry Meyers, a St. George attorney.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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