Joe Biden encourages Mitt Romney to run for Senate

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MAY 03: Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the Milken Institute Global Conference 2017 at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on May 3, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Former Vice President Joe Biden is encouraging onetime rival Mitt Romney to return to public life and run for Senate.

Biden was speaking at Romney’s ideas summit, an annual gathering of donors and business leaders in Utah.

During a private event Friday night in Park City, Biden called Romney a man of integrity and said he should mount a challenge next year, according to a person in the room.

“By the way, you should run for Senate,” one attendee quoted Biden as saying. The comment was quick and off-hand, but the crowd of Romney loyalists appreciated it and applauded.

Mitt Romney

The two men were on opposite sides of the 2012 election — Biden as the running mate of President Barack Obama and Romney as a Republican presidential candidate.

Romney and Biden both considered running for President last year, only to defer to candidates they saw as having an overwhelming financial advantage (Jeb Bush on the Republican side; Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side).

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 3: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden prepares for the ceremonial swearing in of senators in the Old Senate Chamber at the U.S. Capitol January 3, 2017 in Washington, DC. Earlier in the day Biden swore in the newly elected and returning members on the Senate floor. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

Biden recently launched American Possibilities PAC, a political action committee that has set off speculation about his 2020 intentions. The former Delaware senator has made regular public appearances since leaving office, and has often used them to criticize President Donald Trump.

After being looked over as a finalist for secretary of state in the Trump administration, Romney has spent time campaigning for GOP candidates and taking to social media to weigh in on political matters.

Mitt Romney gives a speech on the state of the Republican party at the Hinckley Institute of Politics on the campus of the University of Utah on March 3, 2016 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Romney spoke about Donald Trump calling him a fraud and arguing against his nomination. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

Speculation has grown that Romney could run for the Senate in Utah. But first, Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, 83, must decide whether he wants to run for an eighth term.

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, is a Mormon and owns a home in Utah.