Mitt Romney delivered what sounded like a stump speech Tuesday during the Utah Economic Outlook and Policy Summit — one of his first major public appearances since speculation began about his political plans. Yet despite ample opportunity to announce a bid for the U.S. Senate, Romney demurred several times.
“I’ve got nothing for you on that topic today, I’m sorry,” the former Massachusetts governor repeated throughout the morning, after being asked repeatedly by Utah leaders and reporters.
“I think he ought to announce when he’s ready to announce,” said Kem Gardner, a close friend of Romney’s.
“He doesn’t have any staff, he doesn’t have a headquarters, he’s not prepared for the onslaught of press,” Gardner said.
Romney gave the keynote address at the Salt Lake Chamber’s annual economic forum at the Marriott downtown.
He spent most of the policy-heavy speech praising Utah's economy and focusing on what the federal government could learn from the Beehive state, including on areas like spending, debt and even carbon emissions.
“Utah has a lot to teach the nation,” he said. “I hope the lessons learned here in this state as a laboratory of democracy can be shared with our nation as a whole.”
The two-time presidential candidate and rumored Senate hopeful said he’s optimistic about the nation’s economic future, despite gridlock in Congress.
Noticeably absent from his speech was any mention of President Donald Trump, though Romney said he likes what Congress is up to.
“I am really pleased with a good deal of the policy agenda that you’re seeing promoted in Washington D.C.," he said. “I consider it a Republican policy agenda.”
Romney applauded the tax plan passed by Congress last month and predicted that corporate tax cuts would translate to more businesses coming and staying in the U.S.
“That combination means more companies, more jobs, more people paying taxes, and a better prospect of us being able to eliminate the deficit and pay down the debt,” he said.
Now that tax reform has passed on the federal level, Romney said, he’d like to see action on entitlement and regulatory reforms.
Romney waved off questions about his expected Senate bid throughout the entire event. He has another public appearance this week at the Silicon Slopes Summit on Friday.