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Is Mitt Romney gearing up for a Senate run?

Mitt Romney has run for Senate once before, in Massachusetts in 1994. He lost to then-incumbent Sen. Ted Kennedy. But citing several sources familiar with his thinking, The Atlantic reports Romney is apparently mulling another run at the upper chamber — this time to replace longtime Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) in Utah.

Hatch is 83 years old and has served in the Senate since 1977. He's up for re-election in 2018, but told National Journal last month that he might consider retiring if Romney were to run for his seat. "If I could get a really outstanding person to run for my position, I might very well consider [retiring]," Hatch told National Journal. "Mitt Romney would be perfect."

While Romney did not run for president in 2016, he stayed in the national spotlight by giving a blistering speech criticizing then-candidate Donald Trump. He also served as the Republican Party's presidential nominee in 2012 and as the governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007. While Hatch tried to downplay his comments, Romney "appears to be taking the potential Senate bid seriously," The Atlantic reports:

In addition to discussing it with Hatch and other party leaders in Utah, sources said Romney has spoken with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. According to two people with knowledge of the conversation, McConnell encouraged Romney to run if Hatch's seat opens up, and sought to assure the former GOP presidential nominee that he would have more influence in the chamber than a typical junior senator. [The Atlantic]

A spokesperson for Romney said the former governor was unavailable to offer comment to The Atlantic on the story. But for Romney, whose Mormon faith and clean-cut conservative demeanor have earned him fervent fans in Utah, a potential campaign in the Beehive State would "likely be a cakewalk," The Atlantic writes. Read more about potential Sen. Romney here.