Mitt Romney gives keynote speech at Utah County GOP Lincoln Day Dinner

Posted at 9:36 PM, Feb 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-17 02:35:50-05

PROVO, Utah -- Mitt Romney spoke to members of the Utah County GOP Friday less than a day after he made his run for Senate official.

Romney announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate Friday morning, and Friday evening he was the keynote speaker at the Utah County GOP's Lincoln Day Dinner.

During his 35-plus minute speech, Romney touched upon a number of topics. He opened with remarks about this week's mass shooting in a Florida school.

"We also must take action to prevent tragedies like this from happening again," Romney said.

Romney said he believes that solutions should be found at the state and local level.

"I haven't seen any federal legislation that would have prevented these attacks," he said. However, Romney said he is on board with Senator Hatch's bill for enhanced background checks.

Romney answered written questions during his speech. He talked about his experience with the Olympics Committee in 2002, and making Utah his home.

At one point, he joked about his run for the presidency preceding his run for U.S. Senate.

"I do want to dispel the rumor that I only ran for president as a stepping stone to becoming the United States senator from Utah," Romney said, which got a chuckle from the crowd.

He listed off a number of categories in which he said he thinks the state needs to improve-- including education, jobs, health insurance, inversion pollution and federal lands.

"We have to have more input on federal lands decisions as opposed to having a president, like President Clinton or President Obama, come in and take our land without any local involvement," he said, to applause.

At one point, Romney spent time talking about President Trump. Romney's been an outspoken critic of the President. But on Friday, Romney said he and President Trump are "pretty much in the same place," when it comes to policies and smaller government.

"I'm with the President's policy agenda on low taxes and low regulation," he said.

Romney ended his speech by saying Utah is a strong, great state.

"I hope to be able to honor this state by being a member of the senate and represent you there, and fight for the values that have made this state all that it is," he said, closing out his remarks.

After the dinner wrapped up, Romney spoke to reporters outside, while supporters cheered and held signs behind him.

Romney addressed remarks that he's "not really a Utahn," by saying that he attended college in Utah for three years, came back for the Olympics, and has since made Utah his home.

He explained he hadn't intended to run for the U.S. Senate seat, but that in mid-2017, Senator Orrin Hatch gave Romney a three-page memo explaining why Romney needed to run if Hatch decided to retire.

"I assumed he was running-- after all, I told him I'd endorsed him," Romney said. "Then my wife and I began to think about it. Some weeks we said, 'No way.' Other weeks we said, 'Yes.' And, I just happen to think I can do more for Utah."

Romney's full remarks are available in the video embedded below: