President Donald Trump on Monday indicated that he would support Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) if the senator decided to run for re-election, snubbing former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s reported consideration of a Senate run.
Asked whether he was encouraging Hatch to run for another Senate term, Trump told reporters in Utah, “Yes.”
“Mitt’s a good man,” Trump said, according to a pool report, when a reporter asked if he was trying to send the former nominee a message with his endorsement of Hatch. “He’s a good man.”
Trump called Hatch a “fighter” during a speech at the Utah State Capitol later Monday.
“We hope you will continue to serve your state and your country and the Senate for a very long time to come,” he said to Hatch.
Hatch in April said he would “consider” retiring if Romney ran for his seat.
“If I could get a really outstanding person to run for my position, I might very well consider it,” Hatch told the National Journal. “Mitt Romney would be perfect.”
The Atlantic reported in April that Romney, formerly governor of Massachusetts and the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, was considering the possibility of running for Hatch’s seat.
Romney last made a bid for government service in December 2016, when Trump considered him as a candidate for secretary of state, but turned away after Romney refused to apologize for critical remarks he made about Trump on the campaign trail.
Sources told TPM’s Cameron Joseph in October that Hatch is leaning toward retirement, and gave Romney his blessing to run for Hatch’s seat if he does decide to leave the Senate, but had not made a final decision.
This post has been updated.