Utah GOP chairman: 'Never my intent' to disparage Romney

Utah GOP chairman: 'Never my intent' to disparage Romney
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The chairman of the Utah Republican Party said Wednesday that he believes Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyOn The Money: Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump | Trump to offer B aid package for farmers | House votes to boost retirement savings | Study says new tariffs to double costs for consumers Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump Iraq War looms over Trump battle with Iran MORE is qualified to run for Congress, walking back previous comments in which he criticized a potential Senate run by the former GOP presidential candidate.

Rob Anderson said he did not intend to disparage Romney when he told The Salt Lake Tribune that Romney would essentially be doing in Utah "what Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFrustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' Poll: Nearly half of Clinton's former supporters back Biden Harris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign MORE did in New York" if he were to launch a bid for the Senate.

Clinton was elected as a senator from New York in 2000, despite not having lived in the state.

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"I regret that my comments about potential Senatorial candidate, Mitt Romney, came across as disparaging and unsupportive," Anderson said in a statement. "That was never my intent."

"While my method of speaking tends to be very matter of fact, it is also true that tone and tenor do not come across well in print," he added.

Anderson had also told the Tribune that, if Romney were to launch a Senate campaign, it would deter other candidates that "would be a better fit for Utah."

Romney, who was born in Michigan and served as governor of Massachusetts, moved to Utah in 2013 after his unsuccessful 2012 run against former President Obama. 

Anderson said Romney reached out to him after he made the comments to the Tribune, and that Romney accepted his apology. 

Anderson also said that he would "treat all candidates equally to ensure their path to the party nomination is honest and fair."

Speculation has swirled that Romney could mount a run in Utah to replace Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTrump gambles in push for drug import proposal Biden's role in Anita Hill hearings defended by witness not allowed to testify 'Congress' worst tax idea ever'? Hardly. MORE (R-Utah), who has announced that he will not seek reelection in 2018.

While Romney has not made a formal announcement, he plans to make an announcement about his decision on Thursday. The Associated Press reported Wednesday that he is expected to run for the seat.