Will he or won’t he? Mitt Romney talks 2024 Senate and presidential races at Sutherland Institute event

The Utah senator said he’s eyeing fall as a deadline to announce whether or not he’ll run for reelection in the U.S. Senate in 2024.

If Mitt Romney has made a decision about whether he’ll seek another term in 2024, he’s not ready to say so publicly.

On Monday, Romney said he’ll keep the Utah political universe guessing a little longer during a short Q&A session with Utah media members on Monday.

“I’m thinking maybe this fall I’ll make an announcement about a decision,” Romney said. “I’m trying to decide whether I can get some things done that I care about in another term. How productive can I be,” Romney said.

“Our state deserves someone who can actually get things done, work across the aisle if need be, to accomplish things,” he added.

If he decides to run for another term next year, Romney would start with a considerable lead on several potential challengers for the Republican nomination. A recent poll gives Romney 30% support in a hypothetical GOP primary matchup against several challengers.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Rick Larsen, from the Sutherland Institute chats with Sen. Mitt Romney, at the Hinckley Institute of Politics, on Monday, Aug. 21, 2023.

The same poll shows a slim majority of Utah Republicans say Romney should not run for another term next year. If Romney steps aside, he will become only the second U.S. Senator from Utah to serve only one term, joining Democrat Abe Murdock, who lost his re-election bid in 1946.

Romney may be waiting on the publication of a forthcoming book to announce his decision. The senator and former presidential candidate turned over a trove of emails, text messages and personal writings to author McCay Coppins who is working on the book, “Romney: A Reckoning,” which is set for publication on Oct. 24.

Donald Trump’s legal troubles

At a Sutherland Institute event at the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics on Monday, Romney, who has been one of the most vocal critics of Donald Trump, took a swipe at the former president’s defenders who have suggested the four criminal indictments and 91 felony charges he’s facing are politically motivated.

“Did he bring this upon himself? Yes. We’re unfortunately subject to the consequences of our actions. I don’t know if they’ll reach a judicial conclusion that finds him guilty, but he could have avoided this very simply by following the same kind of ethics and path that has been followed by every president that I know of going back to [George] Washington,” Romney said.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Sen. Mitt Romney greets students, after speaking at the Hinckley Institute of Politics, on Monday, Aug. 21, 2023.

Despite his legal troubles, Trump’s support among Republicans remains strong. A survey from CBS News found Trump has a massive lead of more than 40 percentage points over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis among likely Republican primary voters.

“I think Trump’s support is not so much because of policy. His campaign so far hasn’t put up any policy. It’s very much that they like Donald Trump,” Romney said.

“They like what they believe he stands for, and so they’re sticking with him regardless of what he is accused of doing,” the senator said.

2024 presidential race

Romney made waves earlier this summer by laying out a road map of sorts to deny Donald Trump the Republican presidential nomination.

He said candidates that have “no hope” of winning should drop out of the presidential race by Feb. 26, so the field can coalesce behind Trump’s strongest challenger. Since those candidates likely won’t drop out of the race of their own volition, Romney argued GOP megadonors should turn off the campaign cash to force them out.

On Monday, Romney said convincing people to get behind his plan is easier said than done.

“There’s such an incentive to stay in to the very, very end so that you try to get your name better known, perhaps get a TV gig down the road. It would be nice to see support consolidated,” Romney said.