Does Trump Have It Out for Mitt Romney?

  • Does Trump Have It Out for Mitt Romney?

Does Trump Have It Out for Mitt Romney?

President Donald Trump told reporters that he's encouraging 83-year-old Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah to run for re-election. 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. Orrin Hatch to run for an eighth term in 2018. But when the press followed up with a question about whether Trump's enthusiasm for Hatch was meant to deter Romney, he demurred, replying, "He's a good man. Mitt's a good man".

"We hope you will continue to serve your state and your country in the Senate for a long time to come", Trump said in the state Capitol, calling Hatch a "fighter", a high compliment from the president.

"President Trump has asked Hatch to run all year", the source added, noting that Trump's reasoning has primarily been the President's desire to score legislative victories on tax reform, health care and judge nominations.

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. He feels that he still has unfinished work to do in the Senate, and his ability to shepherd through tax reform - which has always been a top goal for him - has deepened his feeling that he can continue to be an effective and powerful leader on Capitol Hill at a time when his party is deeply divided.

Since then Romney has only criticized Trump in public after the President's remarks creating a moral equivalence between neo-Nazis and their opponents after the racial violence in Charlottesville, Va., in August. Their suspicions are warranted: Trump has sounded off to friends about how he doesn't like the idea of a Senator Romney.

Trump called Hatch in October to and requested he run again, sources familiar with the call told Politico.

"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 flawless".

"Over the past year the President has encouraged Senator Hatch to consider running for re-election a number of times, because of his leadership position and ability to advance their shared Republican agenda", Hatch spokesman Matt Whitlock said in a statement to ABC News. "Mitt Romney has neither opened the door nor closed it".

"Senator Hatch is one of the most effective legislators of all time and has worked very effectively with President Trump's administration", he continued.

Such concern apparently exists outside the White House as well. Although many thought Romney may have looked the part, he did not get the top job at Foggy Bottom.