Inside Romney’s campaign strategy for Utah Senate
Published on February 15, 2018
By FLONAD News
By ALEX ISENSTADT.
The GOP heavyweight intends to go out of his way to avoid looking like he’s coasting on his name.
Mitt Romney is poised to launch his political comeback — but don’t expect him to talk much about his onetime nemesis, President Donald Trump.
The 2012 GOP nominee had planned to announce his campaign for Utah Senate with a Thursday web video, bringing to an end months of speculation about his intentions and instantly becoming the highest-profile Republican on the ballot this year.
On late Wednesday, Romney postponed the rollout in light of the deadly school shooting in South Florida.
When he goes forward, Romney intends to carefully skirt questions about how he’ll deal with the president and what could be in store for his future, amid speculation that he’s already plotting a role in leadership or even another campaign for the White House.
Instead, Romney plans to keep it hyperlocal, presenting himself as someone who will tend to the state’s needs even though his election is essentially a foregone conclusion, according to several people who’ve spoken to him in recent weeks.
It’s an approach other big-name figures who’ve run for Senate have employed, such as Hillary Clinton and Al Franken: Don’t appear to be taking anything for granted or coasting on celebrity.
Think more meet-and-greets with voters, a largely Utah-based campaign team, fewer TV commercials, and less give-and-take with national reporters.
In short, the 2018 Romney Senate campaign will look nothing like his 2012 presidential bid.
“I think you’ll see him spending his time and building a dialogue with the people of Utah and earning their support,” said Spencer Zwick, a longtime top Romney adviser.
“It doesn’t mean through a bunch of TV ads. I think people will be surprised, and it will be refreshing how accessible Mitt is to the people of Utah.”
To that end, Romney has tapped Kelsey Berg and MJ Henshaw, veterans of Utah politics who formerly worked for ex-Rep. Jason Chaffetz, to help run his campaign.
He has hired a Salt Lake City-based pollster, Y2 Analytics. And he has assembled an informal kitchen cabinet of local advisers that includes former Utah Jazz basketball executive Greg Miller.
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