President Donald Trump spoke by phone with Mitt Romney on Thursday evening, a conversation that comes amid mounting speculation that Romney — a fierce Trump critic — is preparing to run for Senate in Utah.
The brief call, which was described by two sources who were briefed on it, lasted less than 10 minutes. The president wished Romney, the 2012 GOP nominee, best of luck in his future endeavors.
The two men also spoke about 83-year-old Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, who announced his retirement earlier this week, opening the seat for Romney to run.
Trump had aggressively pressured Hatch to run for reelection in an effort to block Romney from taking the seat. The president flew with Hatch to Salt Lake City last month to lavish praise on him at a ceremony in which Trump announced the shrinking of the state's national monuments.
Romney was an outspoken critic of Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, describing him as a "fraud" and a "phony" and imploring the party to nominate someone else.
Tensions eased after the election, when Trump considered Romney to be his secretary of State. Yet Romney has criticized Trump at various points during his tenure in office, and he has made it clear that he would be willing to take on Trump as a senator.
Those who've spoken with Romney say he is almost certain to enter the race sometime in the next few weeks. He has told friends that he was caught off guard by Hatch's retirement as he had expected him to seek reelection.