Senator Mitt Romney Calls for a “New Generation of Leaders” in His Retirement Announcement

mitt romney stands in front of a fireplace mantle and large mirror and talks with his hands in front of his chest, he wears a dark suit with a white collared shirt and blue tie, to the left are several reporters
Mitt RomneyGetty Images

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Latest News: Mitt Romney Retiring from U.S. Senate in 2025

On September 13, Senator Mitt Romney of Utah announced he won’t seek reelection, meaning the 76-year-old will retire from Congress when his current term expires in 2025. “At the end of another term, I’d be in my mid-80s,” he said in a video statement. “Frankly, it’s time for a new generation of leaders.” During his announcement, Romney criticized leadership from both parties for their failure to address climate change and the national debt, saying “neither President Biden nor former President Trump are leading their party to confront those issues.”

Who Is Mitt Romney?

Mitt Romney is the junior U.S. senator from Utah and was the Republican Party’s nominee for president of the United States during the 2012 election, when he lost to Barack Obama. The son of former Michigan Governor George Romney, Mitt founded the investment firm Bain Capital and later ran for the Massachusetts Senate in 1994, losing to incumbent Ted Kennedy. Romney took over the Salt Lake Organizing Committee and helmed a successful 2002 Olympic Games. He became governor of Massachusetts in 2003 and made a run for the Republican nomination in the 2008 election, losing to candidate John McCain. During his unsuccessful 2012 bid against Obama, Romney named U.S. Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate. Romney was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2019.

Quick Facts

FULL NAME: Willard Mitt Romney
BORN: March 12, 1947
BIRTHPLACE: Detroit, Michigan
SPOUSE: Ann Lois Davies (1969-present)
CHILDREN: Tagg, Matt, Josh, Ben, and Craig

Olympic-Sized Leadership

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Thanks to Mitt Romney, the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games were a success. IOC President Jacques Rogge congratulates him at the closing ceremony.

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Romney’s 2004 book Turnaround: Crisis, Leadership, and the Olympic Games sits prominently at the distinguished Cranbrook School, which he attended before going to Brigham Young University for undergrad.

Massachusetts Governor

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Thanks in part to his success at the Winter Olympics, Romney won the governorship of Massachusetts in 2003. In this photo, Lieutenant Governor Kerry Murphy Healey celebrates with Romney after he received the nomination on April 6, 2003.

2008 Presidential Run

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Romney and Arizona Senator John McCain speak before the first Republican presidential debate on September 5, 2007. McCain went on to win the party’s nomination.

Romney’s Wife Ann

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Ann and Mitt Romney visit Warsaw, Germany, in July 2012. The couple married in 1969 and have five sons.

White House Bid No. 2

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Romney announces the start of his second presidential campaign using the backdrop of a New Hampshire farm on June 2, 2011.

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Romney and Texas Governor Rick Perry spar during a CNN presidential debate on October 18, 2011.

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Romney sits in the front of his campaign tour bus with Senator Rob Portman of Ohio during a rally in Ohio on August 14, 2012.

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Republican presidential candidates Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, and Jon Huntsman debate on September 7, 2011, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

Education and Family

Born Willard Mitt Romney on March 12, 1947, in Detroit and raised in the nearby suburb of Bloomfield Hills, Mitt Romney is the son of George Romney, who served as Michigan governor in the 1960s. Mitt attended the prestigious Cranbrook School before receiving his undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University in 1971. He attended Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School, receiving both a law degree and a master’s degree in business administration degree in 1975.

a black and white photo of a young mitt romney, wearing a patterned suit, and ann lois davies, wearing a turtleneck sweater
An engagement photo of Mitt Romney and Ann Lois Davies dated December 30, 1968.Getty Images

Romney married Ann Lois Davies in 1969; they have five sons named Tagg, Matt, Josh, Ben, and Craig. Mitt and Ann Romney are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Their openness about their faith has brought the religion into the national spotlight, creating unique media attention for the Romneys and other members of the Mormon faith.

Business Career and Entry into Politics

Romney began his career in business. He worked for the management consulting firm Bain & Company before founding the investment firm Bain Capital in 1984. A decade later, in 1994, he ran for a seat in the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts but was defeated by longtime incumbent Ted Kennedy.

mitt romney wearing a jacket, talking to reporters holding several microphones in front of him as they stand in a parking lot outside
Mitt Romney talks to reporters about security for the 2002 Winter Olympics in November 2001, when he led the Salt Lake Olympic Committee.Getty Images

Romney stepped into the national spotlight in 1999, when he took over as president of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee. He helped rescue the 2002 Winter Olympic Games from financial and ethical woes and helmed the successful Salt Lake City Games in 2002. He later wrote about the experience in his 2004 book Turnaround: Crisis, Leadership, and the Olympic Games.

Romney parlayed his success with the Olympics into politics when he was elected governor of Massachusetts in 2003. During Romney’s term as governor, he oversaw the reduction of a $3 billion deficit. He also signed into law a health-care reform program to provide nearly universal health care for Massachusetts residents.

Running for President

2008 Presidential Campaign

mitt romney, wearing a suit and tie, listens to senator john mccain, who stands in the foreground and talks to someone off camera
Mitt Romney listens to fellow U.S. Senator John McCain during the 2008 presidential race at an event that March.Getty Images

After serving one term as governor and choosing not to run for reelection, Romney decided to follow in his father’s footsteps again by running for U.S. president. George had sought the Republican presidential nomination in 1968, when Richard Nixon became the party’s candidate. During his 2008 White House bid, Mitt made it through Super Tuesday, winning primaries in Massachusetts, Alaska, Minnesota, Colorado, and Utah. However, Senator John McCain of Arizona was the one to secure the Republican nomination. According to reports, Romney spent about $110 million on his campaign, including $45 million of his own money.

Romney continued to keep his options open for a possible future presidential run. He maintained much of his political staff and political action committees and raised funds for fellow Republican candidates. In March 2010, Romney published the book No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, which debuted on The New York Times bestseller list.

2012 Presidential Campaign

paul ryan and mitt romney, both wearing white shirts and ties, laugh while surrounded by political supporters
Paul Ryan ran as Mitt Romney’s running mate in the 2012 presidential election.Getty Images

At a farm in New Hampshire on June 2, 2011, Romney announced the official start of his campaign for the 2012 presidential election. The candidate took many standard Republican positions on taxes, the economy, and fighting terrorism, while consistently and vocally criticizing incumbent President Barack Obama, a Democrat. Specifically, Romney denounced Obama’s health-care reform program—a stance that earned him criticism from the press, as the president’s health-care plan was similar to the Massachusetts plan that Romney supported as governor.

Additionally, throughout the 2012 presidential race, critics charged Romney with changing his position on several key issues, including abortion. Romney had supported Roe v. Wade—the U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld a woman’s right to an abortion until 2022—while campaigning for a Senate seat in 1994 but maintained an ardent pro-life stance throughout his 2012 campaign for the presidency.

From the start of his campaign, Romney emerged as the frontrunner for the Republican nomination. He showed more mainstream Republican appeal than Tea Party–backed competitors like Texas Governor Rick Perry. In January 2012, Romney scored a decisive victory in the New Hampshire Republican primary by capturing more than 39 percent of votes. As the race continued, Rick Santorum became his greatest competition, winning several states. However, Romney secured a substantial lead in the number of delegates needed to clinch the nomination.

In April 2012, Romney benefited from a narrowing of the field when Santorum announced that he was suspending his campaign. That left only Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich as Republican competitors, with Gingrich soon throwing in the towel as well.

Romney’s campaign met with negative publicity in July 2012, when President Obama’s campaign ran ads claiming that his opponent was the head of Bain Capital until 2001, not 1999 as was previously stated. Around that same time, news reports began to circulate regarding economy-stifling practices by Bain Capital; according to the reports, Romney’s company had invested in several businesses that specialized in relocating jobs overseas.

Romney’s campaign fired back with its own political ads, which claimed that Obama was more interested in helping his donors than looking out for the American public. This was only the beginning of the slinging of barbs and arrows that would occur between the two candidates along the campaign trail.

In mid-August 2012, Romney announced 42-year-old U.S. Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate for vice president. The fiscal conservative was chair of the House of Representatives Budget Committee. Weeks later on August 28, Romney became the Republican Party’s official presidential nominee, receiving 2,061 delegate votes—nearly double the required 1,144—at the 2012 Republican National Convention, held in Tampa, Florida.

mitt romney and barack obama, both wearing black suits and ties, speak simultaneously into microphones on a stage during a debate
Mitt Romney and Barack Obama debate in a town hall–style format at Hofstra University on October 16, 2012.Getty Images

Romney made headlines after his first presidential debate with Obama in early October 2012. He gave a strong performance, receiving praise for his speaking skills from citizens and critics alike. Most agreed that Romney won the debate and that his performance significantly boosted his public perception and status in the presidential race. However, Obama was praised for his performance during the second and third debates, with many people claiming that the president had won both.

As each state announced its election results on November 6, 2012, many Americans clung to the edge of their seats. Just before midnight, the results were announced: In a tight race, Obama defeated Romney, with the president receiving just over half of the popular vote and around 60 percent of the electoral vote.

Leading Republican Voice Not in Office

Romney retreated from the public eye following his draining 2012 presidential campaign and defeat. He rejoined the board of directors of Marriott International and became executive partner group chairman of Solamere Capital, occasionally surfacing for interviews.

By 2014, the former presidential nominee was back in the game, throwing his weight behind various Republican candidates ahead of the midterm elections. His presence fueled rumors that a third run for president was coming, but after reportedly considering the possibility, Romney in early 2015 announced that he wouldn’t do so.

Nevertheless, Romney remained involved in the public conversation as the campaign season heated up. With Donald Trump emerging as the surprise GOP frontrunner, over strong establishment candidates like former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Florida’s Senator Marco Rubio, Romney became one of the New York businessman’s most vocal critics from the Republican side, referring to him as “a phony, a fraud” in a March 2016 speech.

donald trump and mitt romney sitting together at a restaurant table, looking directly into the camera, with trump smiling and romney grimacing slightly
Donald Trump and Mitt Romney dine together in late November 2016 in New York City.Getty Images

Romney maintained his stance even after other Republicans fell in line behind their nominee, before offering an olive branch after Trump pulled out his Election Day victory in November 2016. The president-elect seemed willing to put their conflict behind him, reportedly considering Romney for secretary of state, before nominating Rex Tillerson for the role instead. The rift surfaced again in 2017, when Romney criticized Republican support of controversial Senate nominee Roy Moore, a candidate backed by Trump.

In early 2018, 83-year-old Utah Senator Orrin Hatch announced he was retiring at the end of his term, prompting speculation that Romney would run for his seat. Around this time, news broke that the former Massachusetts governor had been treated for prostate cancer the previous summer. A Romney aide informed CNN that the cancer was removed surgically and found not to have spread.

Utah Senator

mitt romney, wearing a black suit and blue tie, sits at a table with a nameplate and bottle of water in front of him, and a television behind him
Senator Mitt Romney during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee confirmation hearing in February 2021.Getty Images

In mid-February 2018, Romney confirmed his Senate bid via a video announcement, saying, “I have decided to run for United States Senate because I believe I can help bring Utah’s values and Utah’s lessons to Washington.” With Senator John McCain battling brain cancer and seemingly in the twilight of his career, pundits suggested that Romney would assume the Senate role of leading center-right critic of the Trump administration.

Romney finished second to state representative Mike Kennedy at the Utah GOP convention in April, setting the stage for a potentially difficult primary battle. However, Romney easily dispatched his opponent in the June primary election, before defeating Democrat Jenny Wilson in November to win the Senate seat.

Romney again emerged as a foil to President Donald Trump during the highly charged impeachment hearings and trial that stretched from fall 2019 into February 2020. He was one of only two Republican senators (along with Maine’s Susan Collins) to vote to allow witnesses during the Senate trial, and the only member of the GOP to vote to convict the president on one of the two impeachment charges, for abuse of power.

The Utah senator was present during the attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters on January 6, 2021, in an attempt to stop a joint session of Congress from certifying the Electoral College votes following Joe Biden’s defeat of Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Romney expressed anger at some of his Republican colleagues for allegedly riling up the supporters in the days before the attack, yelling, “This is what you’ve gotten, guys!” Romney later said of the incident: “We ignore the lessons of January 6 at our own peril. Democracy is fragile; it cannot survive without leaders of integrity and character who care more about the strength of our Republic than about winning the next election.”

Romney announced in September 2023 that he would not seek reelection to another term, meaning he plans to retire from the Senate when his current term expires in 2025. The 76-year-old noted he would be in his mid-80s by the end of an additional term and said in a video announcement, “Frankly, it’s time for a new generation of leaders.” Romney also criticized leadership from both parties for their failure to address climate change, the national debt, and authoritarian threats abroad, saying “neither President Biden nor former President Trump are leading their party to confront those issues.”


  • The American people are the greatest people in the world. What makes America the greatest nation in the world is the heart of the American people: hardworking, innovative, risk-taking, God-loving, family oriented American people.

  • I feel very deeply about the need to respect and tolerate people of different social, or sexual, orientation. But at the same time, I believe marriage should be preserved as an institution for one man and one woman.

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