The president's motives aren't hard to discern: retaining Hatch would allow Trump to keep an ally close while spurning Romney, his onetime presidential primary opponent who remains a vocal critic, and who would in theory prove a much less obliging Congressman. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) as he arrives for a speech at the Rotunda of the Utah State Capitol on Monday.
"If Steve had a choice between Orrin Hatch and Mitt Romney, he would pick Hatch 10 times out of 10", the source said. Privately, Trump has told people he wants Hatch - chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee - to keep the seat and has implored the senator to run, saying he doesn't want Romney in the Senate. "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". The President's decision is a nod to Hatch, who had made the issue a focus.
The 83-year-old Hatch, whom Trump Utah campaign leader Don Peay called "one of the leading voices for the president during the entire campaign", and "clearly. a strong supporter of Trump from the beginning", began telling friends in October that he would retire at the end of his term.
Well, Romney can hardly be furious.
I mean, surely someone as well versed on both moral rectitude and rank opportunism as Mitt Romney can comprehend a political maneuver by someone whose butt he's alternately kicked and kissed. Hatch has also stood by Trump through some of his most hard moments.
"I asked for the president's help in fixing this disaster", Hatch said.
The Washington Examiner says Bannon, who once mulled finding a Republican challenger to take on Hatch next year, would much rather see Hatch run again than Mitt Romney enter the race. Not only does Trump have to convince Hatch to run again, but he also must work hard to get him over the finish line.
Utah polls show that big majorities of voters want Hatch to retire and that Romney would easily win the seat. "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".
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. While many Republican senators disdain the president - and some even criticize him publicly - the Utah senator speaks positively about Trump. After the Access Hollywood tape, Hatch said, "I'm not going to judge him by mistakes he made a decade before or more". The victor by far: Mitt Romney. "He's playing the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat".