Utah GOP chairman takes a jab at Romney's ability to represent the state

Utah GOP chairman takes a jab at Romney's ability to represent the state
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In an unusual move, the chairman of the Utah Republican party on Wednesday took a jab at Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyMaher makes million donation to Democratic Senate super PAC Poll: House GOP candidate leads in California swing district Super PACs spend big in high-stakes midterms MORE's possible run for Senate in Utah, comparing the former GOP presidential candidate's likely run to Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate Heller embraces Trump in risky attempt to survive in November Live coverage: Cruz, O'Rourke clash in Texas debate MORE's past run for Senate.

Rob Anderson, the state party chairman, told The Salt Lake Tribune that Romney is "essentially doing what Hillary Clinton did in New York," recalling the former first lady's 2000 run for Senate in New York, a state she had never resided in. He said Romney has barely spent any time in Utah.

"I think he's keeping out candidates that I think would be a better fit for Utah because, let's face it, Mitt Romney doesn't live here, his kids weren't born here, he doesn't shop here," Anderson said. 

Romney, who was born in Michigan and served as governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007, moved to Holladay, Utah, in 2013 after losing the 2012 election to former President Obama. 

Anderson accused Romney of "using name recognition to win a seat" in the state. "I have two questions for Mitt. First of all, why? And how do you expect to represent Utah when you don't live here?" 

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The state party chairman's comments come just one day ahead of Romney's campaign announcement, expected on Thursday morning. Romney is expected to announce he will seek to replace Utah's longtime retiring Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchJudiciary Dems say GOP treating Kavanaugh accuser worse than Anita Hill Dem vows to probe 'why the FBI stood down' on Kavanaugh Senate Democrats increase pressure for FBI investigation of Kavanaugh MORE (R). 

Hatch publicly backed Romney as a "fine" candidate to be his successor.

"There's no question that he loves Utah and wants to support Utah any way he can," Hatch said in January. "And I'm hopeful he'll run, because he would be just fine." 

Romney is a favorite to win Utah in 2018, a state he won by 50 points in the 2012 election. Top Republican senators are reportedly already considering Romney, an outspoken critic of President TrumpDonald John TrumpHannity urges Trump not to fire 'anybody' after Rosenstein report Ben Carson appears to tie allegation against Kavanaugh to socialist plot Five takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate MORE, for a leadership position at the National Republican Senatorial Committee.