Trump, Romney spoke Thursday

Romney could seek Utah senate seat

By JIM ACOSTA AND JENNIFER HANSLER, CNN
Headline Goes Here POOL via CNN

Former Massachusetts governor and 2016 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney has been an outspoken critic of Trump's policies and rhetoric.

(CNN) - President Donald Trump spoke with Mitt Romney Thursday, a White House official confirmed to CNN, amid speculation that the 2012 GOP presidential nominee -- and frequent Trump critic -- could seek a Senate seat in Utah.

Details of their conversation were not immediately available. But the conversation comes days after Sen. Orrin Hatch announced this week that he would retire.

CNN has reported that Romney was being widely encouraged to run for the seat as Hatch considered whether to seek re-election. Several "draft Romney" groups have formed across Utah trying to nudge the former Republican presidential nominee into the race. (None of them, however, have the blessing of or cooperation with Romney's nuclear team of advisers, several sources who speak regularly with the former Massachusetts governor have told CNN.)

Romney has been an outspoken critic of Trump's policies and rhetoric, during both Trump's 2016 campaign and his time in office, and his presence in the Senate could allow him to reclaim the spotlight as a conservative counterpoint to Trump. In March 2016, Romney called Trump "a phony" and "a fraud," and he's also sharply criticized Trump's remarks following the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last summer that left one person dead.

Trump has also lambasted Romney. In March 2016, Trump went after Romney's Mormon faith at a campaign event in Salt Lake City, asking, "are you sure he's a Mormon? Are we sure?"

Despite their at-times fraught relationship, Trump considered Romney for the secretary of state post. The two met at both Trump's New York hotel and his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, during the transition period, before Trump decided on Rex Tillerson.

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said in December that Romney and Trump spoke over the phone following the President's trip to Utah. She noted that the two enjoy a "great relationship," but did not say whether a potential Romney Senate campaign was discussed.

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