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Mitt Romney's Checklist For A Possible Senate Run

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Mitt Romney speaks during his annual leadership summit in Park City in June.

Imagine you’re Mitt Romney. You’re 70 years old. A distinguished statesman. A former governor of Massachusetts and a two-time Republican presidential candidate. What do you do in your golden years?

With rumors that Mitt Romney is more seriously exploring a Senate run in Utah, many political observers are wondering why?

Atlantic writer McKay Coppins first reported on Romney considering the idea last spring. He says there’s a few reasons Romney may want to re-enter politics.

“The reasons for Mitt Romney running are two-fold: one, he’s genuinely alarmed by Donald Trump’s rise," says Coppins. "He’s very concerned about the way that Trump has governed so far as president, and more importantly, he’s worried about the future of the Republican party.”

But in order to run, he first needs a few assurances and a few items crossed off his checklist.

First on that checklist? Sen. Orrin Hatch has to retire, a decision the seven-term senator isn’t expected to make until the end of the year.

“He really needs to be pretty certain going into this that he’s not going to be spend a lot of time and energy duking it out with another Republican," says Coppins. "He’s done that plenty on the presidential stage. I don’t think he has any interest in doing it in Utah.”

The second item on Romney’s checklist? Romney needs to know he’s going to have some clout if and when he get to Washington.

"He wouldn’t want to just play the role of junior senator from Utah," says Coppins. "I think Mitt Romney would want to have a little bit more influence than a first-time senator would typically have. And what I’m told is that Republican leadership is very open to that.”

Finally, Romney will need to have the blessing of his family, especially his wife Ann, to re-enter the political fray. Lucky for him, with an ability to raise money and finance his own campaign, he has time to wait.

“By all accounts everyone I talk to says that this would be a cakewalk for Romney," says Coppins. "So he can afford to kind of sit around and wait several more months for Hatch to bow out. Whereas other candidates really need Hatch to make a decision if they’re going to be able to put together a formidable campaign.”

Hatch is 83 years old and has gone back and forth on retiring. But Coppins says he seems to be warming to the idea with Romney waiting in the wings.

Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
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