In his second public appearance in a week, former presidential candidate and rumored senate hopeful Mitt Romney quashed expectations that he'd announce a bid for Utah's open seat.
“You would never make a critical announcement the week the Mormon church just names a new president, when it’s a Friday … and when someone lights a gasoline truck on fire on I-15,” Romney said with a laugh. “So no, there will be no announcements today.”
Romney appeared onstage at the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit in downtown Salt Lake City on Friday morning.
In a Q&A with Vivint president and former Romney chief of staff Alex Dunn, the high-profile Republican spoke mostly about his business experience as president of Bain Capital and his time as governor of Massachusetts.
Some 14,000 entrepreneurs and tech workers attended the conference at the Salt Palace.
When asked about advice to aspiring entrepreneurs, Romney said as an investor, he cared most about the “capability” of the person pitching a business idea.
“We looked to see whether people around that individual respected them,” Romney said.
“I have found that the most successful senior executives I’ve met are people who other people admire, respect, trust and follow.”
Romney also praised the Republican tax plan recently passed by Congress, but said the GOP should set their sights on raising wages for the average American worker.
“The wealthy people are doing fine,” Romney said, before suggesting that more business competition would boost pay for everyone else.
“As [employers] compete to hire people, they have to raise their wages to get them, and that gets wages up. That’s why we’re fighting for better conditions for enterprise,” he said to applause from the crowd.
Romney praised the tax plan passed by Congress last month, and urged low regulations for business and tech innovation.
“As long as government gets out of the way and Uncle Sam doesn’t come in and mess things up, America can win," he said.
Romney recalled his time as governor of Massachusetts, when the state’s Legislature was dominated by Democrats.
“If you want to get something done, you have to recognize that not everybody agrees with you,” he said.
Romney recalled speaking with former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, who said having an opposition party isn’t necessarily a hurdle to getting things done.
“And I agree,” he said.
The crowd responded with applause and a few shouts of “Run for Congress, Mitt!”