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Donald Trump

Donald Trump speaks with former foe Mitt Romney as he weighs Senate bid

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 January, 2018, 12:48am
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 January, 2018, 12:48am

The White House says that President Donald Trump has spoken with Mitt Romney, the former Republican presidential candidate who has expressed interest in running for Senate in Utah – and who previously blasted Trump as “a fraud”.

The two men spoke briefly on Thursday night, the White House said. They discussed Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, who is retiring after four decades.

Hatch’s departure opens the door for Romney, who has been a frequent critic of Trump in the past, to make a swing for the Utah senate.

Trump, meanwhile, had urged Hatch, 70, to run again.

Romney had been seen approaching Trump Tower on New York to talk with the transition team after Trump won the presidential election – which surprised many, as he had been a vocal opponent of Trump’s candidacy.

During the last presidential campaign, Romney called then-candidate Trump “a fraud” who had “neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president.”

In a speech at the University of Utah, Romney gave a blistering tirade against Trump that concluded: “Here’s what I know. Donald Trump is a phoney, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University.

“He’s playing the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat. His domestic policies would lead to recession. His foreign policies would make America and the world less safe.

“He has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president. And his personal qualities would mean that America would cease to be a shining city on a hill.”

Orrin Hatch’s retirement from US Senate opens door for bid by Mitt Romney, a harsh critic of Trump

Romney made his own run for president against Barack Obama in 2012, being selected as the Republican candidate but failing with 47.2 per cent of the votes to Obama’s 51.1 per cent.

His campaign was badly hit after a video of him apparently dismissing most the voting population as irresponsible while speaking at a $50,000-a-plate fundraiser went viral.

During the speech, Romney – who had a net worth of as much as US$250 million – complained about how “Forty-seven per cent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect.”

He continued: “My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

He now lives in Utah, where he is fondly regarded as the man who helped turn around Salt Lake City’s scandal-plagued 2002 Winter Olympics.