Mitt Romney won't commit to backing

Julia Ritchey  KUER

Julia Ritchey KUER

Romney is seeking Utah's GOP nomination for Senate, but was forced into a primary race Saturday against state lawmaker Mike Kennedy.

Mitt Romney leaves the state elections office after declaring his candidacy for the U.S. Senate last month at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City.

The results are a setback for Romney's attempts at a political comeback and serve as a reminder of his 2012 comment that "this ain't bean bag" - a phrase dating back to the turn of the 20th century which suggests politics is a game meant only for tough men.

Romney previously secured his spot on the primary ballot by gathering 28,000 voter signatures but said Saturday that choice was partly to blame for his loss.

A candidate must secure 60 percent of the vote at the convention to avoid a primary.

Romney also failed to win a majority at the Utah GOP convention, coming in with 49 percent of delegates' support to Rep. Mike Kennedy's 51 percent for the nomination to fill retiring Sen. "You know what I'm really exhausted of? Washington, D.C., is the Goliath" he said.

Romney said he had expected the race to go to a primary, and said that his relationships and reputation would allow him to hit the ground running in the U.S. Senate.

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Romney offered a characteristically awkward retort, correcting Kennedy on his biblical metaphor and claiming he's the one who'll take on the status quo in D.C. "We're all for the same policies, but who can actually get the job done?" This really is terrific for the individuals of Utah.

Romney's bid for the seat was endorsed by both Hatch and President Donald Trump and he managed to raise $1.68 million for the campaign versus Kennedy's $289,000.

Romney and Kennedy will now compete in a primary set for June 26.

"I know there were many people who were not enthusiastic about someone gathering signatures", Romney said.

"The issue prompted hours of debate, shouting and booing at the convention".

"I will make that decision down the road", Romney told CNN at the Utah GOP convention on Saturday. Romney was especially critical of Trump's negative rhetoric about immigrants. While Romney was one of the most prominent Never Trumpers during the 2016 election, he then publicly auditioned to be Trump's secretary of State.

Democrats in Utah will pick their nominee for the U.S. Senate seat next weekend.

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