Mitt Romney Announces Candidacy For Senate
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
And, of course, Mitt Romney has announced he's running for the U.S. Senate in Utah, a state that voted overwhelmingly for him in 2012 and for Donald Trump in 2016. He'll have to keep both things in mind as he runs. From member station KUR (ph), Nicole Nixon reports.
NICOLE NIXON, BYLINE: Romney announced his candidacy in a video yesterday and said that Utah has a lot to teach the nation.
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MITT ROMNEY: I have decided to run for United States Senate because I believe I can help bring Utah's values and Utah's lessons to Washington.
NIXON: He talked about dysfunction at the federal level and said Utah has a balanced budget, welcomes immigrants and has lawmakers who respect one another. Many Utahns were excited when Romney made his candidacy official. Paul Henstrom, who said he voted for Romney in 2012, hopes he would be a bridge in a deeply divided Congress.
PAUL HENSTROM: Maybe him taking kind of a leadership role and getting more bipartisanship. Congress really hasn't turned out much unless it's become a crisis situation.
NIXON: Small business owner Kym Kirk says she wants Romney to make it to the Senate, so he can fight for people like her.
KYM KIRK: I would love to see him, as a businessman - to really support small business and keep the taxes low so that businesses can grow.
NIXON: The former Massachusetts governor has been a vocal critic of President Trump, and now Utahns will be watching his campaign and wondering if that will continue. Rob Kirk says even though he's a big Trump supporter, he has no problem with Romney's criticisms of the president.
ROB KIRK: I'm certainly not blind to the fact that there may be some things that need to be reviewed and - you know, and looked at a little closer. So - and I was, frankly, you know, really positive that he actually comes out and says that there are a few things that he disagrees with the president about.
NIXON: And some voters, like Michael Salisbury, hope that Romney, should he make it to Congress, will support the president's agenda.
MICHAEL SALISBURY: You know, I hope he lets bygones be bygones and pick it up from right now and work with President Trump.
NIXON: Romney says he generally supports Trump's policy agenda, though he occasionally takes to Twitter to criticize some of the president's comments, like the vulgar one he made last month about Haiti and African nations. It's a fine line to walk for a candidate in a state that reluctantly went for Trump in 2016. Jason Perry is director of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics.
JASON PERRY: This has to be a campaign for Mitt Romney that is independent of what the president says or doesn't say.
NIXON: Romney is heavily favored to win the seat currently held by retiring Senator Orrin Hatch. Romney's one of the world's most famous Mormons, and the governor has dubbed him Utah's favorite adopted son. For NPR News, I'm Nicole Nixon in Salt Lake City.
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