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Romney Officially Announces Senate Run: ‘I Will Fight for Utah’

Mitt Romney officially announced Friday that he is running for the U.S. Senate in 2018, saying that he will "fight for Utah" in a campaign launch video.

"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," Romney said.

The 2012 Republican presidential nominee had long been expected to make the announcement that he will run for the seat being vacated by longtime Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch (R.). Romney's name recognition and popularity there make him the instant front-runner in the red state.

Romney made Utah his official residence in 2013 and lives in Holladay.

In his announcement video, Romney said Utah was admired for both its beauty and the character of its people, adding its citizens have a "can-do pioneering spirit."

"We're known as a people who serve, who care, and who rise to any occasion," Romney said.

Romney, standing in the Utah Olympic Oval, touted his management of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics as the committee's CEO. He ultimately used the stature brought to him by the games as a springboard for his successful run for Massachusetts governor in 2002.

He contrasted Utah's financial management with a Washington "buried in debt." He also said Utah "welcomes legal immigrants from around the world," and in an implicit shot at the Trump administration, said Washington "sends immigrants a message of exclusion."

"If you give me this opportunity, I will owe this Senate seat to no one but the people of Utah," he said. "No donor, no corporation will own my campaign or bias my vote. And let there be no question, I will fight for Utah."

Romney twice ran for president, falling short of the GOP nomination in 2008 before winning it in 2012. He was defeated in the general election that year by President Barack Obama, although Romney won Utah by 48 points.

In 2016, Romney spoke out strongly against Donald Trump as the Republican Party's nominee, calling him a "fraud."

Romney was initially going to make his Senate announcement Thursday but delayed it due to Wednesday's high school shooting in Parkland, Florida.