President Donald Trump on Monday endorsed Mitt Romney in his bid for the U.S. Senate in Utah, calling a man who once lambasted him as a fraud to be a "worthy successor" to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R., Utah.).
"@MittRomney has announced he is running for the Senate from the wonderful State of Utah. He will make a great Senator and worthy successor to @OrrinHatch, and has my full support and endorsement!" Trump wrote.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 20, 2018
Romney responded on Twitter by thanking Trump for the endorsement, adding he hoped over the campaign to earn the support of Utah's citizens.
Thank you Mr. President for the support. I hope that over the course of the campaign I also earn the support and endorsement of the people of Utah.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) February 20, 2018
Romney officially announced his Senate run on Friday with a video that took shots at Washington while praising Utah's fiscal restraint and embrace of immigrants.
Romney, who was the Republican presidential nominee in 2012, is the heavy favorite to win the seat due to his popularity in Utah and strong name recognition. He won the red state by 48 points over President Barack Obama.
While he was the governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007, Romney, a Mormon, has deep Utah ties, living there since 2013 and helping salvage the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
Trump's endorsement is significant, given that Romney was one of his fiercest critics among Republicans when the billionaire businessman stormed to the party's nomination in 2016. In a blistering speech in March of that year, Romney blasted him as a "phony," "a fraud," "very, very not smart" and "playing the American public for suckers."
At that time, he also tweeted he would not have accepted Trump's endorsement of him in 2012 if Trump had said what he "says today about the KKK, Muslims, Mexicans, disabled."
If Trump had said 4 years ago the things he says today about the KKK, Muslims, Mexicans, disabled, I would NOT have accepted his endorsement
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) March 3, 2016
Trump in turn ripped Romney for losing to Obama in 2012, often saying he "choked."
The two men put aside their differences enough after Trump's election victory when Romney was considered to be his secretary of state nominee, although Trump ultimately tapped Rex Tillerson for the job.
UPDATED 10:26 P.M.: This story was updated with Romney's tweet in 2016 about how he would have rejected Trump's endorsement in 2012 if Trump spoke like he did in 2016.