As part of a 40 state ‘thank you’ tour, Governor Mitt Romney and wife, Ann, were in Utah on Thursday, Feb 17, 2011 where the Governor spoke with supporters at an event in downtown Salt Lake City. They also attended a reception with legislators and supporters at the Utah State Capitol building where Romney spoke.
SALT LAKE CITY — Mitt Romney met privately with Utah supporters of his 2008 presidential bid Thursday, including Gov. Gary Herbert and state legislators.
Romney, the former leader of the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, held court in the Capitol’s Gold Room for nearly an hour late in the afternoon. Earlier, he spoke with another group of Utah backers at an event held in the Wells Fargo bank building downtown.
He declined to comment on his intentions this election cycle after the closed-door reception, but told reporters it was great to be back in Utah, “a place of great passion and energy.”
Herbert said Romney spoke to the group at the Capitol about “the rise of federalism and the fact that states need to be utilized as co-equal partner, not as a subservient partner. … I think that’s something he could use in a campaign if he decides to run for president.”
One person at the reception said Romney also bashed President Barack Obama on the national debt and suggested looking at entitlement programs and raising the retirement age.
Governor Romney also reminisced about the 2002 Winter Olympic Games that were held in Salt Lake City shortly after the attacks of 9-11:
“We have memories of this building,” Romney told reporters, “Those were dark days when the Olympics were in trouble. The people of Utah came together in a way I don’t think the world will ever forget.”
Romney’s visit to the Beehive State capitol was arranged with the help of Kirk Jowers, head of the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics:
“I think it’s definitely fair to say Gov. Romney has done everything he would need to do to be able to run for president if he chooses to do that. Certainly there’s no announcement yet,” Jowers said, from any legitimate candidate.
“I think you’ll probably see a bunch of people getting in in mid-April, or as late as early May,” Jowers said. “Everyone one in Utah hopes he’s one of them. Including me.”
To read more / view photo slides of Mitt and Ann at the Utah Capitol Building, click here.
Legislators told ABC 4 that Mitt Romney did not say whether he was running for president or not.
But that he said his wife wants him to.
So, we asked Ann Romney what she had to say about that.
Here’s what she told us:
ABC 4: “Legislators are telling us you want him to run?”
Ann Romney: “He’d make a great president.”
The Romneys attended a similar ‘thank you’ gathering in Idaho that same day and reportedly spent the night in Salt Lake City with third son Josh and wife Jen (who recently had the Romney’s 16th grandchild).
► Jayde Wyatt