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Jan 16, 4:38 PM EST

Romney declines to say whether he'd run for Utah Senate seat



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Romney declines to say whether he'd run for Utah Senate seat

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney declined to say Tuesday whether he would run for the Utah Senate seat being vacated by Republican Orrin Hatch, telling reporters the "time will come" for him to make some kind of announcement.

Romney, who moved to Utah after losing the 2012 presidential election, repeatedly demurred when asked at a gathering of about 1,000 Utah business leaders in Salt Lake City whether he would run for office.

"I don't have anything for you on that topic today. Time will come," the former Massachusetts governor told reporters after delivering a policy-laden speech and participating in a question-and-answer session at the event.

Romney said he has had "a couple of very cordial conversations over the past couple of months" with President Donald Trump but declined to say whether they discussed his potential candidacy or answer a question about what kind of relationship he'd have with the president if elected. Romney cited "too many hypotheticals" to answer those questions.

It's the first of two speeches the former Massachusetts governor is scheduled to give this week to leaders of Utah's business community as he ratchets up appearances in the state.

People close to the 70-year-old Romney have said he is interested in running this year in his adopted home of Utah.

Romney has been a frequent critic of Trump, calling him a "fraud" during the campaign who "has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president."

On Monday, Romney posted a message on Twitter critical of comments Trump is reported to have made last week using a vulgarity to describe African countries and question further U.S. acceptance of Haitian immigrants.

"The poverty of an aspiring immigrant's nation of origin is as irrelevant as their race," Romney tweeted, adding that the message attributed to the president is inconsistent with America's history and values.

Romney is fondly regarded as the man who helped turn around Salt Lake City's scandal-plagued 2002 Winter Olympics.

He's also one of the most famous and respected Mormons in the world - a big deal in a state where 60 percent of residents belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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