President Donald Trump on Monday indicated that he would support Sen. Orrin Hatch to extend his streak as the longest-serving Republican in Senate history. But according to Politico, the president has launched a one-man campaign to urge Hatch to run for re-election, which has been widely read as a slight to his former political foe, Mitt Romney.
Politico reported Sunday that Trump is going all out to persuade Hatch to seek re-election in no small part to prevent his longtime nemesis, Romney, from winning the seat.
According to Trump deputies, the president's relationship with Hatch began before Romney planned of being Utah's senator.
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Trump demurred on Monday when asked whether he was trying to send Romney a message by encouraging Hatch to run again.
Romney, 70, is viewed as a virtual lock to win if he chooses to run for the Senate seat (and Hatch doesn't), with hypothetical polls showing he'd beat his potential Democratic opponent in the heavily Republican, heavily Mormon state by an increasingly huge margin.
Romney has reportedly been mulling a Senate bid in Utah for some time, taking steps after the new year and last summer to up his presence in the Utah political scene. And indeed, Hatch was reportedly telling friends he wouldn't. Either way, Trump-not to mention his former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who is allegedly considering a Hatch endorsement-may not have much of a choice in the matter. Orrin Hatch prior to speaking at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S., December 4, 2017.
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According to Politico, Romney himself has grown frustrated by the "ongoing uncertainty" about Hatch's future plans, especially after the senator encouraged him to consider run in the first place.
"You are a true fighter, Orrin, I have to say", Trump said at an event in Salt Lake City, Utah's capital. Trump previously said he is doing it for Hatch. "His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University".
After Trump was elected, Romney was among the candidates interviewed for secretary of state but he has remained critical of the president on social media.
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