(CNN) — Mitt Romney said in a video announcement Friday that he will run for the US Senate from Utah, setting out on a glide path to Washington where he will likely play a central role driving the direction of the fractious Republican Party.
“I have decided to run for United States Senate because I believe I can help bring Utah’s values and Utah’s lessons to Washington,” he says in the clip.
Until relatively recently, this would have been an unlikely path for Romney, who retreated from the national spotlight after losing the 2012 presidential election to then-President Barack Obama. But the ex-Massachusetts governor has re-emerged on the political scene as a powerful voice calling out the inflammatory statements and conduct of President Donald Trump.
Romney’s fiery rebukes of Trump’s crude comments on topics ranging from the character of Mexican immigrants to sexual harassment made him a hero of the #NeverTrump movement and a set of Democratic admirers. His criticism of Trump has been especially notable considering the President once considered him as a candidate for secretary of state, a courtship that many friends of Romney later viewed as a token gesture by Trump to generate publicity.
Romney avoided direct broadsides at the President Friday, though he did say Utah “welcomes legal immigrants from around the world — Washington sends immigrants a message of exclusion. And on Utah’s Capitol Hill, people treat one another with respect.”
Romney is running to replace retiring GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch. In the video, he focused on the challenges and opportunities facing Utah, a state where he established his permanent residency in 2014.