Trump endorses Romney for Senate, putting aside past bickering

President Donald Trump is endorsing Mitt Romney in Utah's Senate race, another sign that the two Republicans are burying the hatchet after a fraught relationship.

The 2012 Republican nominee had previously said Trump was unfit to be president

In this Nov. 19, 2016, file photo, Donald Trump giving the thumbs-up as Mitt Romney leaves Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in Bedminster, N.J. It was reported at the time that the pair were discussing possibilities in Trump's administration, but 15 months later Romney has officially chosen a Senate run. (Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press)

President Donald Trump is endorsing Mitt Romney in Utah's Senate race, another sign that the two Republicans are burying the hatchet after a fraught relationship.

The GOP's presidential nominee in 2012, Romney announced last week he would seek the nomination to replace retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch. In a tweet Monday night, Trump wrote, "He will make a great Senator and worthy successor to @OrrinHatch, and has my full support and endorsement!"

Romney quickly accepted the endorsement with thanks via Twitter.

Trump has not always been so positive about Romney the political candidate. 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 that year, calling him a "phoney" who was unfit for office. More recently, Romney criticized Trump's response to last year's deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., and last month called Trump's use of an obscenity to describe African countries as inconsistent with American history and values.

Romney thinks local in campaign launch

Members of both political parties have suggested that Romney, if elected to the Senate, would continue to call out Trump if he believed the president warranted criticism. However, Romney did not mention Trump or his scandal-plagued administration in his campaign announcement on Friday, focusing instead on how his adopted state of Utah could be a model for better government in Washington.

Asked Friday if he would seek or accept Trump's endorsement, Romney demurred but said they had talked on the phone two or three times in recent months and had a cordial and respectful relationship.

Within minutes of Trump's tweet Monday night, Romney sent one of his own: "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."

Despite the past bickering, the support is not particularly surprising. Trump, struggling in most opinion polls and a special counsel Russia investigation handing over his administration, needs every edge he can muster to try and ensure Republicans retain control of the Senate in the November midterms.

The Republicans need to defend just eight seats in the chamber, while Democrats have to retain 26 seats, including two held by independents, in midterm and special elections this year.

With files from CBC News