Trump endorses Mitt Romney for Senate despite past name-calling between the two

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Monday he supports Mitt Romney’s bid for the U.S. Senate from Utah, endorsing a former rival and major figure within the Republican Party.

“.@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 tweeted Monday evening.

The endorsement marked the latest chapter in an at-times tumultuous relationship. Romney was among the top Republican critics of Trump’s behavior during the 2016 campaign, and Trump fired back in return, mocking Romney for his loss in the 2012 presidential election.

In 2016 Trump said the former Massachusetts governor had “choked like a dog” during his failed 2012 bid against President Barack Obama.

For his part, Romney gave a scathing critique of then-candidate Trump during the GOP primary, calling him a “phony” who was unfit for office. More recently, Romney criticized Trump’s response to last year’s deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and last month called Trump’s use of an obscenity to describe African countries as inconsistent with American history and values.

But Romney responded to Trump’s endorsement tweet later Monday night, tweeting, “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.”

The former Massachusetts governor announced February 16 that he would run for the Senate seat currently occupied by GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch, who said earlier this year that he would retire, and thereby cleared the path for Romney in the heavily Republican state.

In his announcement, Romney made a veiled critique of the President’s tone on immigration.

“Utah welcomes legal immigrants from around the world — Washington sends immigrants a message of exclusion,” Romney said in a video Friday without mentioning Trump by name.

When the two were feuding, the critiques were much more overt. Romney blasted then-candidate Trump and warned of a potential “bombshell” in the tax returns Trump refused to make public as the 2016 primary campaign season unfolded.

Trump responded by calling Romney “one of the dumbest and worst candidates in the history of Republican politics,” and the two continued to exchange barbs. In one example, Romney called Trump a “fraud” in a speech, and Trump said Romney “would have dropped to his knees” for Trump’s endorsement in 2012.

The two appeared to mend fences, however, after Trump won the general election. They were photographed dining together as Trump mulled making Romney his secretary of state. Following their dinner, Romney made remarks congratulating Trump on his victory, and criticisms between the two have been largely muted since.

They did disagree in fall 2017 on Alabama Republican U.S. Senate nominee Roy Moore, who was accused of sexual assault and harassment. Trump backed Moore even in the face of the accusations, and Romney said that “no vote, no majority is worth losing our honor, our integrity.”