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?
“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.