- Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
- President Donald Trump wants Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah to run for an eighth term.
- Trump is publicly egging on Hatch to run.
- It’s widely rumored that 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney will run for the seat if Hatch decides to retire.
- Trump reportedly does not like the idea of a Sen. Romney.
President Donald Trump is publicly egging on GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah to run for reelection – a move that is certain to irk 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who is widely rumored to seek a bid for Hatch’s seat should the seven-term senator opt against running in 2018.
Hatch, meanwhile, has become Trump’s favorite senator of late, with the president making a Monday trip to Salt Lake City at Hatch’s request. As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Hatch was instrumental in securing the party’s victory in passing tax reform legislation through the Senate this weekend. Trump on Monday moved to reduce the size of two major national monuments in Utah, a move the 83-year-old has sought for some time.
During his visit to Utah, Trump admitted that he was encouraging Hatch to run for reelection. Asked if he was trying to send a message to Romney that he doesn’t want him to make a bid for Hatch’s seat, which the senator has held since 1977, Trump said Romney’s “a good man. Mitt’s a good man.”
Then at his speech alongside Hatch and other member’s of Utah’s congressional delegation, Trump began his address by calling Hatch “a very special man” and “a true fighter” whom he’s “gotten to know … very well.”
“You meet fighters and you meet people that you thought were fighters but they’re not so good at fighting,” Trump said. “He’s a fighter. We hope you will continue to serve your state and your country in the Senate for a very long time to come.”
Hatch has quickly become one of Trump’s top Senate allies
Trump’s public posturing followed a Sunday story in Politico that outlined how the president was “going all out” to persuade Hatch to seek another term in office. Hatch, who in 2012 said he would not run again, has since signaled that he is interested in doing so but has not made a final decision. As Politico’s Alex Isenstadt wrote, the push to get Hatch to run again was “aimed in no small part at keeping the president’s longtime nemesis, Mitt Romney, out of the Senate.”
“Romney has been preparing to run for Hatch’s seat on the long-held assumption that the 83-year-old would retire,” Isenstadt wrote. “Yet Hatch, the longest-serving Republican senator in history, is now refusing to rule out another campaign – a circumstance Romney’s infuriated inner circle blames squarely on the president.”
He added that Trump has voiced his opinion to confidants that he doesn’t much like the idea of a Sen. Romney.
“Hatch is a known entity for Trump and has been really good for the president for the most part,” Kirk Jowers, a friend of Romney who formerly chaired his political action committee, told Politico. “He knows for a fact he’s not going to get that with Romney. I don’t know that he knows what he’s going to get with Romney, but it’s not going to be what he’s got with Hatch.”
Hatch has defended Trump at times when the majority of the GOP has flocked in the opposite direction – and Trump has taken notice. Just last week, when Trump was under fire for retweeting anti-Muslim videos posted by the fringe-right group Britain First, Hatch said Trump was one of the best presidents he’s served under.
“He’s not afraid to make decisions,” Hatch told reporters. “He’s not afraid to take on the big mouths around here.”
Trump tweeted the clip soon after.
“Thank you @SenOrrinHatch,” the president wrote. “Let’s continue MAKING AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”