DEER VALLEY, Utah — Mitt Romney is once again testing his political power — critiquing President Donald Trump, raising money and campaigning for fellow Republicans, and not ruling out another run for office for himself.
The 2012 GOP presidential nominee is returning to the spotlight, six months after Trump — the man Romney once savaged as unfit for the presidency — nearly picked him to be secretary of state.
During an annual gathering of Romney’s top donors and political allies at a posh ski resort here, the former Massachusetts governor outlined his concerns with how Trump is conducting his “America First” brand of foreign policy, sketched out early plans to boost a big-spending super PAC dedicated to saving the party’s imperiled House majority, and even stoked speculation that he’s thinking about a Senate bid.
On Friday night, in a private appearance with former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democrat raised eyebrows when he told Romney he should consider running for Senate. Romney, who has refused to quash persistent speculation he might seek Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch’s seat should he forgo seeking reelection, did not push back at the suggestion, said two people who witnessed the exchange between the two former rivals.
As the audience applauded, Romney only smiled.
Romney’s return comes as senior Republicans express profound unease with the direction of Trump’s presidency and worry it will cost them dearly in the 2018 midterms. With Trump’s approval ratings at historic lows and his agenda in tatters, GOP leaders are in desperate search of big-name surrogates able to motivate increasingly despondent Republican voters — a profile that Romney, a mainstream figure who articulates the party’s traditional views, just may fit.