Mitt Romney Announces Senate Run With Dig at Donald Trump

Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney will now be running for a U.S. Senate seat. George Frey/Getty

Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has announced his return to politics, this time running for a U.S. Senate seat in Utah.

In a video announcing his campaign titled "Ready to Serve," Romney hit out at the Trump administration, saying Washington was sending out a "message of exclusion" to immigrants.

"Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in Washington," Romney says in the video. In a clear dig at the Trump administration's current immigration crackdown, the former presidential candidate says: "Utah welcomes legal immigrants from around the world. Washington sends immigrants a message of exclusion. And on Utah's Capitol Hill, people treat one another with respect."

I am running for United States Senate to serve the people of Utah and bring Utah's values to Washington.

Romney also hit out at the administration's management of the U.S. economy and trade, saying, "Utah has balanced its budgets. Washington is buried in debt. Utah exports more abroad than it imports. Washington has that backwards."

After losing his 2012 election bid to then-incumbent President Barack Obama, the former private equity manager has stayed out of the public spotlight for the most part.

He has, however, been vocal in his criticisms of Donald Trump, saying in 2016: "His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University."

Romney will be looking to replace Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, who announced last month that he would be stepping down at the end of 2018.

Hatch, who was first elected in 1976, is the longest-serving Senate Republican, with seven terms behind him. In announcing his decision to step down, he said: "Every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves."

The long-serving Republican had reportedly urged Romney to throw his name into the ring to replace him.

"Mitt has been a household name in Utah for decades, his family history goes back to Mormon pioneers, and he's done a lot for our state," Hatch told The Salt Lake Tribune. "I urged him to run because I think he is a once-in-a-generation public servant, and I have no doubt he'll represent our state and interests well."

Romney's former running mate House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan welcomed the businessman's return to politics, saying: "This is a terrific day for the United States Senate."

"Our party and our country are always better off when Mitt is engaged, and I know that he will put his unparalleled experience, conservative leadership and lifetime of service to work for Utah in the U.S. Senate."

The path to victory is expected to be a clear one for Romney, who is considered a sure bet to replace Hatch.

Romney said he had decided to run for Senate because he believes he can "help bring Utah's values and Utah's lessons to Washington," adding: "Utah is a better model for Washington than Washington is for Utah."

In his new campaign video, he pointed to his work on Utah's 2002 Olympics team as an example of his leadership skills, touting the high numbers of volunteers who applied to be a part of the sporting event "for no pay and no tickets."

He also gave a brief rundown of what he has been up to over the past five years, including returning to the business sector, spending time with his 24 grandchildren, campaigning for Republicans and meeting young people across the country.

"If you give me this opportunity, I will owe this Senate seat to no one but the people of Utah," Romney said. "No donor, no corporation will own my campaign or bias my vote," Romney added.