Just hours after Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch announced his retirement, a small change to Republican former governor Mitt Romney's Twitter profile set off a firestorm of speculation about his Senate aspirations.
The change was spotted by Sahil Kapur, a political reporter for Bloomberg, who tweeted out two screenshots just a couple hours apart and asked his followers if they could spot the difference. In the first, Romney's location was marked as Massachusetts. In the second, it's marked as Holladay, Utah.
There has been speculation for months that Romney was eyeing Hatch's seat, but the Twitter profile switch seemed to confirm everyone's suspicion that he was gearing up for a run. If the 70-year-old Romney were to run, he'd stand a chance of becoming the first person in the modern era to ever serve as governor in one state and senator in another, after serving in Massachusetts from 2002 to 2007.
Plenty of people think Romney will win the race if he runs. A resident of Utah and famously popular amongst Mormons, who make up a majority of the state, he's laid the groundwork for a successful campaign. Former Utah congressman Jason Chaffetz predicted that Romney would run and win on Fox News.
"He's one of the most beloved figures, he has a home in Holladay, Utah, he attended Brigham Young University, he saved Utah for the Olympics in 2002, he was the presidential nominee. He's going to win," Chaffetz said. "The reality is the most beloved political figure in Utah is Mitt Romney, and he will be the next senator if he decides to run."
Then, things will get really interesting. Since Romney has been out of office, he's been a vocal critic of the less savory elements of modern politics.
In the last month, he even went after Russia for accusing the United States of tarnishing relations between the two powers.
"Get real," he wrote on Twitter. "It was Russia invading sovereign nations, propping up dictators, hacking elections, abusing human rights, and cheating at the Olympics."
Throughout his time on the sidelines, Romney has been a proponent of choosing country and integrity over party. If he were to return to the Senate, many political pundits believe he'd offer a moral clarity that the Republican party has struggled to elevate after a divisive 2016 election. He could be a wildcard Senate vote as someone who is unafraid to break the party line when he feels a piece of legislation doesn't meet his standards — or the standards of his constituents. After Sen. John McCain gave a speech on "spurious nationalism" during an event honoring his contributions as a veteran, Romney called him "Lincolnesque" and a "champion of character."
And, of course, one of Romney's most popular tweets was when he shot down comparisons between the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville and the protesters who showed up to keep them out.
"No, not the same," he said. "One side is racist, bigoted, Nazi. The other opposes racism and bigotry. Morally different universes."
For now, there's been no official announcement from the Romney camp. But with Hatch on his way out and the speculation bubbling over, it could come any day.
Cover image via Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com