Trump says he's encouraging Hatch to run for reelection

U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch speaks to reporters after leaving the Senate floor during debate over the Republican tax reform plan in Washington U.S

There are 1 comment on the Reuters story from 3 hrs ago, titled In slap at Romney, Trump says he wants Orrin Hatch to run for re-election.

"Whether it's confirming judges, passing tax reform or accomplishing any part of his agenda, Hatch is a key player in getting anything done", Hatch spokesman Matt Whitlock said late Sunday.

However, it seems Romney's possible bid has another opponent: his old frenemy Donald Trump. While many Republican senators disdain the president - and some even criticize him publicly - the Utah senator speaks positively about Trump.

"If I could get a really outstanding person to run for my position, I might very well consider [retiring]", Hatch said, adding, "Mitt Romney would be ideal". Romney has reportedly been gearing up for a run, but now Hatch is dragging his feet - and Trump is encouraging him to run for an eighth term. This anemic support makes Hatch vulnerable to defeat, regardless of who enters the race. Trump and the senator will take Air Force One to Salt Lake City, where the president will sign an executive order announcing he will reduce the size of Utah's Bears Ears and Grand-Staircase Escalante national monuments, which Hatch has been pushing for.

"We hope you continue to serve your state and your country in the Senate for a very long time", Trump said.

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Trump has mostly tried to sway Hatch behind the scenes. After Trump retweeted Islamophobic videos last week, Hatch said he wasn't "aware" of the controversy, then offered some general praise: "I'll say this for ya.' He's been one of the best presidents I've served under, and the reason is he's not afraid to make decisions".

Romney was no friend of Trump's on the campaign trail; in March 2016, he labeled the president "a phony" and "a fraud" whose "promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University".

As Politico notes, the public display of affection isn't only about blocking Romney. "He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat", he added. This is considered the defining moment that the "Never Trump" movement was born. Trump seemed to like the introduction, saying it was "truly" a good one.

"Whether Romney would maintain his critiques if he landed in Washington is a matter of some debate; sources close to him told the Atlantic that he would consider toning it down, "at least at first", and would focus instead on "[using] his status as an elder statesman in the G.O.P.to rally congressional Republicans around conservative legislative initiatives". According to the Washington Examiner, Bannon is considering endorsing Hatch - a Mitch McConnell loyalist who's been in D.C. since 1976 - though he can't stop declaring "war" on the GOP Establishment.

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