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Mitt Romney announces U.S. Senate run, finally

Posted at 5:54 AM, Feb 16, 2018

SALT LAKE CITY - After weeks of speculation and delays, Mitt Romney announced Friday that he is entering the race for U.S. Senate in Utah to replace Orrin Hatch.

Romney, the former 2012 GOP presidential candidate, governor of Massachusetts and Salt Lake Olympic Committee boss,  confirmed his run in a video posted on social media early Friday morning.

The video, shot at the Olympic Ice Oval in Kearns, features Romney recounting his work during the 2002 Winter Olympics and him being brought into rescue a Games in trouble. He espouses Utahns' "can-do pioneering spirit."

"Utah has balanced its budgets. Washington is buried in debt. Utah exports more abroad than it imports. Washington has that backwards," he said on the video. "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 have decided to run for United States Senate because I believe I can help bring Utah's values and Utah's lessons to Washington," Romney said on the video.

Mitt Romney announces his campaign for U.S. Senate in a video shot at the Olympic Ice Oval in Kearns.

Romney said over the past five years (referencing his presidential campaign) he's spent time with his grandchildren, gone back to business and campaigned for other Republicans. He said he looked forward to meeting with voters over the next year.

"I will owe the Senate seat to no one but the people of Utah," Romney declares on the video. "No donor, no corporation will own my campaign or bias my vote. Let there be no question: I will fight for Utah."

Romney's campaign will kick into gear with a speech before the Utah County GOP at its annual Lincoln Day Dinner on Friday night.

On Wednesday, Romney delayed his scheduled Feb. 15 announcement out of respect for the victims of the Florida school shooting.

On Thursday, Romney called members of the Utah State Legislature to solicit their thoughts on "what he could accomplish if he were elected to the Senate," lawmakers told FOX 13.

In January, Romney began making the rounds as speculation built that he would seek to replace Hatch in the Senate. During a speech to the Salt Lake Chamber, he played coy.

"I don’t have anything for you on that topic today. Time will come, but it’s not now," he told reporters. His friends told FOX 13 at the event he was going to run.

Later that week, Romney appeared at the Silicon Slopes tech summit but also gave no answers.

Romney's hints have sparked some aggravation amongst Republicans who have questioned why he didn't jump into the race sooner.

Utah GOP Chairman Rob Anderson leveled some criticism against Romney over whether he was in Utah, or whether he still claimed Massachusetts as his home (Anderson later apologized for any disparaging remarks).

Still, some Republicans have grumbled about a potential challenge to Romney at the state party convention.

Salt Lake County Councilwoman Jenny Wilson, a Democratic challenger in the race against Romney, has taken swipes at him over his residency. The Utah Democratic Party also jumped in early Friday with some snark.

Still, Romney is very popular. Polling shows he is the favorite to win the race, regardless of who his opponent is.

This is a breaking news story. Updates on FOX 13 as details become available.