Romney won’t say if he’s running for U.S. Senate, but he just gave a campaign-style speech

SALT LAKE CITY -- Mitt Romney dodged questions about whether he was planning to jump into the race for U.S. Senate, but delivered a campaign-worthy speech declaring that "Utah has a lot to teach the nation."

Mitt Romney speaks at the Salt Lake Chamber's annual Economic Outlook and Policy Summit on Jan. 16, 2018. (Image by Eric Weseman, FOX 13)

Speaking at the Salt Lake Chamber's annual Economic Outlook and Policy Summit on Tuesday, Romney stoked the speculation of a campaign to replace retiring Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, but declined to formally announce. Instead, he gave a lengthy speech on topics ranging from economics and debt to immigration and family values. He avoided any mention of President Trump.

"Great speech!" said Natalie Gochnour of the University of Utah's Kem Gardner Institute, sitting him down for a chat in front of a packed ballroom. "People that give great speeches would look great in the U.S. Senate. Have you ever thought about that?"

Romney laughed and replied: "I have nothing for you on that topic, Natalie!"

After his appearance wrapped up, Romney exited the ballroom with reporters in tow, pressing him on a Senate run.

"I've got nothing for you on that topic, I’m sorry," he told FOX 13. "I sure had fun today speaking with the Chamber and meeting people here. I’ll be here the end of the week as well."

Brushing off more questions, Romney said: "I don’t have anything for you on that topic today. Time will come, but it’s not now."

Romney's longtime friend, Kem Gardner, said he was jumping in.

"Of course he's running for Senate!" Gardner told FOX 13. "But he'll announce when he's ready."

Gov. Gary Herbert said he would support Romney running to replace Hatch.

"Absolutely," the governor said. "Because he’s well qualified to do it. He comes to the table with a lot of cache. He will not be your typical freshman senator. He understands the national issues."

Romney is scheduled to speak Friday at the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit.

Watch Romney's speech here: