Opportunity in Utah: Mitt Romney eyes political resurgence

Published: Wednesday, January 03, 2018 @ 3:50 AM
Updated: Wednesday, January 03, 2018 @ 3:50 AM


            FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2016, file photo, Mitt Romney talks with reporters after eating dinner with then President-elect Donald Trump at Jean-Georges restaurant in New York. Romney is considering a new career in Congress. Those who know the 70-year-old former Republican presidential nominee best expect him to announce plans to seek a suddenly vacant Utah Senate seat. Incumbent Orrin Hatch announced Tuesday that he would not seek re-election this fall.(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2016, file photo, Mitt Romney talks with reporters after eating dinner with then President-elect Donald Trump at Jean-Georges restaurant in New York. Romney is considering a new career in Congress. Those who know the 70-year-old former Republican presidential nominee best expect him to announce plans to seek a suddenly vacant Utah Senate seat. Incumbent Orrin Hatch announced Tuesday that he would not seek re-election this fall.(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

He has already made a fortune in business, managed an Olympics, served as governor and secured a presidential nomination. Now, Mitt Romney, at 70 years old, is considering a new career in Congress.

Those who know Romney best expect him to announce plans in the coming weeks to seek a suddenly vacant Utah Senate seat. Such a decision would mark an extraordinary resurgence for a Republican leader who had faded from the national spotlight after two failed White House bids and an unsuccessful push to block President Donald Trump's rise to power.

While Romney has softened his anti-Trump rhetoric over the last year, longtime associates suggest the former Massachusetts governor is eager to bring a new moral conscience to the Republican Party in Washington.

"Obviously, he's ambitious. But he's ambitious for the right reason: to serve," said former New Hampshire Attorney General Tom Rath, a longtime Romney friend. "Mitt Romney is a grown-up voice that America needs. He will add dignity and common sense."

Romney's closest political allies were not given advance notice of Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch's announcement Tuesday that he would not seek re-election this fall, but the decision was not a surprise.

Romney, who moved to Utah after losing the 2012 presidential contest, met privately with Hatch last year to discuss Hatch's possible retirement. In the subsequent months, and with Hatch's apparent blessing, he quietly expressed interest in running for the seat in Hatch's absence. In recent weeks, however, Hatch seemed to be changing his mind — at Trump's urging.

Facing the prospect of Romney's resurgence, Trump openly pressured Hatch to stay in the Senate. His private lobbying campaign was bolstered by a public love fest in December, with Trump inviting Hatch with him on Air Force One in December when he shrunk the boundaries of two Utah monuments.

"Congratulations to Senator Orrin Hatch on an absolutely incredible career. He has been a tremendous supporter, and I will never forget the (beyond kind) statements he has made about me as President," Trump tweeted Tuesday. "He is my friend and he will be greatly missed in the U.S. Senate!"

Few in Romney's small inner circle were willing to speak publicly about his intentions Tuesday, preferring instead to keep the day's focus on Hatch's decades of public service. Several spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss private discussions. None tamped down speculation about Romney's Senate ambitions.

Should he run, Romney is not expected to face significant resistance in Utah's GOP primary contest or in the November general election. Romney, who has five sons and 24 grandchildren, is perhaps the highest-profile Mormon in America and is hugely popular in Utah, where about 60 percent of residents are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Beyond his religious connections, many remember Romney for turning around Salt Lake City's 2002 Winter Olympics after a bribery scandal. In the same city, he delivered a scathing speech in the spring of 2016 attacking Trump as "a fraud" who "has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president."

The takedown resonated in Utah, a state steeped in a culture of courtesy, where people struggled to embrace Trump's brash demeanor and comments about women, minorities and Muslims. He finished third in the state's Republican presidential caucus and earned a smaller percentage of the vote than any GOP presidential candidate in the last two decades.

Just last October, GOP Utah Gov. Gary Herbert called Trump's tenure up to that point "erratic" and noted that governing is different than running a business and is not a "dictatorship."

But beyond Utah, Romney remains hated by many Trump loyalists. The hashtag NeverRomney quickly sprung up on Twitter in the hours after Hatch's announcement. There also emerged a sense of resignation that little could be done to block his path to the Senate.

"The Republican base views Mitt Romney with the same disdain that they view Mitch McConnell," said Andy Surabian, senior adviser to a pro-Trump super PAC allied with former Trump strategist Steve Bannon. "I think the conservative movement will look to weaken him at every turn to ensure he never becomes anything more than a junior senator from Utah."

That's just fine for some Utah Republicans, who are concerned with the fate of the GOP under Trump's leadership.

Derek Miller, the president and CEO of the World Trade Center Utah, who had been considering a run for Hatch's seat, said Romney would be a stabilizing voice of the Republican Party.

"The Republican Party is going through turmoil right now, unfortunately," Miller said. "I think Gov. Romney's voice is an important voice right now in that debate of what the Republican Party stands for."

___

Associated Press writer Brady McCombs in Salt Lake City contributed to this report.

Trump campaign ad calls Democrats 'complicit' in killings by undocumented immigrants

Published: Sunday, January 21, 2018 @ 9:07 AM

President Trump’s Physical Exam Results Released

A new ad released by President Donald Trump's campaign is claiming that Democrats are “complicit” in killings by undocumented immigrants. The ad was released after Senate Democrats opposed a short-term spending bill to keep the government from shutting down.

>> Click here to watch

“President Trump is right — build the wall, deport criminals, stop illegal immigration now,” the ad said, showing clips of top Democrats. “Democrats who stand in our way will be complicit in every murder committed by illegal immigrants.”

>> Trump cancels Florida trip as government shutdown looms

“President Trump will fix our border and keep our families safe,” the ad concluded. The ad was released on the one-year anniversary of Trump’s inauguration.

>> Government shutdown: What closes; will you get your Social Security check; what happens to SNAP, WIC

On Friday, Senate Democrats opposed a short-term spending bill to fund the government and keep it from shutting down after Republicans refused to include a provision to protect thousands of immigrants brought here as children.

>> Read more trending news 

President Trump bashed Democrats after the failed vote, saying that they wanted “unchecked illegal immigration.”

“Democrats are holding our Military hostage over their desire to have unchecked illegal immigration. Can’t let that happen!” he tweeted Saturday morning.

Earlier on Saturday, he again bashed Democratstweeting that they were more “concerned with Illegal Immigrants than they are with our great Military or Safety at our dangerous Southern Border.”

(H/t: The Hill)

What You Need to Know: Government Shutdown

Women's marches, events taking place across nation

Published: Saturday, January 20, 2018 @ 12:20 PM

WATCH: Scenes From 2018 Women's March

A series of women’s marches, protests and voter registration events are taking place across the country this weekend.

This weekend marks the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration. In 2017, the Women’s March on Washington drew a large crowd that marched in protest of Trump’s election. Women’s marches were held across the country and the world.

For 2018, marches and rallies are being held in cities across the country throughout the weekend. There will be a voter registration drive on Sunday in Las Vegas.

Trump cancels Florida trip as government shutdown looms

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 11:35 AM

What You Need to Know: Government Shutdown

President Donald Trump will not make a planned trip to Mar-a-Lago today because of a looming federal government shutdown, a White House official told The Palm Beach Post on Friday morning.

>> Read more trending news

Trump was scheduled to arrive at Palm Beach International Airport tonight for a weekend trip that included a Saturday fundraiser for his 2020 re-election campaign at Mar-a-Lago. The official who confirmed today’s travel is off did not address the president’s plans for the remainder of the weekend.

5 Things to Know About Mar-a-Lago

Trump was planning to make the 12th Palm Beach visit of his presidency. But Congress has not reached a spending agreement to keep the federal government operating past midnight.

Saturday is the one-year anniversary of Trump taking office. The Trump campaign recently announced a “special sweepstakes” in which a winner will get to attend dinner Saturday at Mar-a-Lago with Trump, first lady Melania Trump and Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump.

Trump physical results: 6 things to know

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 5:16 PM

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 16:  U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as he stops by a Conversations with the Women of America panel at the South Court Auditorium of Eisenhower Executive Office Building January 18, 2018 in Washington, DC. The three-part panel features ÒAmerican women from various backgrounds and experiences who will speak with high-level women within the Trump Administration, about what has been accomplished to date to advance women at home, and in the workplace.Ó  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Alex Wong/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 16: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as he stops by a Conversations with the Women of America panel at the South Court Auditorium of Eisenhower Executive Office Building January 18, 2018 in Washington, DC. The three-part panel features ÒAmerican women from various backgrounds and experiences who will speak with high-level women within the Trump Administration, about what has been accomplished to date to advance women at home, and in the workplace.Ó (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump is in excellent health and likely to finish his term in office without any medical issues, a presidential doctor said Tuesday at a news conference, four days after the president underwent a physical exam.

>> Read more trending news

“The president's overall health is excellent," White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson said Tuesday.

Here are six things to know about the results of the president’s physical:

Jackson: ‘He had great findings across the board’

Trump is in “very, very good health,” Jackson said Tuesday. 

“(I have) no concerns for his heart health,” the presidential physician said. “There are many good things that came from his exam, I think he had great findings across the board. “

>> White House physician releases official report

Jackson said Trump’s good health is likely to last through “the remainder of this tern, and even for the remainder of another term, if he’s elected.” He said he based his assessment on the president’s cardiac results.

“He falls into a category that portends years of event-free living,” Jackson said. “He has incredibly good genes, and that’s just the way God made him.”

Cognitive screening showed no issues

Jackson said he conducted a cognitive screening on Trump at the president’s request, although he felt the test was unnecessary.

“I’ve spent almost every day in the president’s presence,” said Jackson, whose office is near Trump’s. “I’ve got to know him pretty well and I had absolutely no concerns about his cognitive ability or neurological functions.”

He said that in all his conversations with Trump, the president has been “very articulate.”

“I’ve never known him to repeat himself around me,” Jackson said. “He says what he wants to say and speaks his mind.”

Infamous slurred speech incident might have been caused by medication

A December incident in which the president sounded as though he was slurring his speech while announcing a policy shift in Israel was probably due to a medication, Jackson said.

>> Related: Trump’s slurred speech: Is it loose-fitting dentures, dry mouth or something else?

“We evaluated him, we checked everything out and everything was normal,” Jackson said, adding that the incident was likely caused because the president needed water.

He said prior to the Dec. 7 incident, he gave Trump Sudafed, which might have “inadvertently dried up his secretions.”

Why Did President Trump Slur His Words in a Recent Speech?

Trump working to lose 10-15 pounds

At 6-foot-3 and 239 pounds, the president has a body mass index of 29.9, just under the number that would designate him as obese, according to information released Tuesday.

“The president, he and I talked and... I think a reasonable goal over the next year or so is (to lose) 10 or 15 pounds,” Jackson said, adding that a nutritionist would be meeting with White House chefs in the coming weeks and that Trump would be put on an exercise routine.

“He’s more enthusiastic about the diet,” Jackson said.

Jackson not concerned about Trump’s stress levels

Despite concerns from the public and reports that have painted a chaotic White House, Jackson said that he has no concerns about the president’s stress levels.

“I talk to him sometimes about stress just because I think it’s my job as his physician to bring it up on occasion,” he said. “I’ve never seen the president stressed out too much. ... He has a unique ability to push the reset button and he just gets up and he starts a new day. (I think it’s) made him healthier from a stress standpoint.”

Jackson did not test Trump’s hearing

Jackson said he didn’t have enough time to test Trump’s hearing, although he planned to conduct such a test in future physicals.

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