Utah's Orrin Hatch announces he will retire from the Senate
03 January, 2018, 01:52 | Author: Edward Snyder
"And for me, that time is soon approaching", Hatch, a former amateur boxer, said in a video posted online.
"Every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves", said 83-year-old Mr Hatch.
But as it became clear that Romney would likely run if Hatch bowed out, Matheson withdrew from contention - an acknowledgment that the 2012 Republican presidential nominee is wildly popular in Utah and would have little trouble securing the seat.
Romney maintains residence in Utah and was the president and CEO of the Salt Lake City Olympic Committee before going on to serve as governor of MA and challenge Barack Obama as the Republican nominee in the 2012 presidential election.
Hatch also served as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and was at the centre of numerous biggest confirmation battles.
That is in part because Hatch had privately told Romney he was not sure he was ready to leave a seat he has held since 1977 and White House officials did all they could to nudge him into another campaign.
Hatch said, "I may be leaving the Senate, but the next chapter in my public service is just beginning".
Romney repeatedly assailed the president during the 2016 campaign, calling Trump "a fraud", and Trump returned the favor, stating that Romney "choked like a dog" in the 2012 race.
Romney weighed in on Hatch's retirement Tuesday afternoon, but did not address his own political future.
The longest-serving Senate Republican with seven terms under his belt, he was first elected in 1976.
In his announcement, Hatch mentioned Trump, who urged him to run for reelection in December.
Other conservatives in the state have been trying to recruit another conservative challenger to contest Romney from the right, but no candidates have yet come forward.
"I join the people of Utah in thanking my friend, Senator Orrin Hatch for his more than forty years of service to our great state and nation".
"We are going to make this the greatest presidency we have seen, not only in generations, but maybe ever", Mr. Hatch said. During his time on the committee, the Senate has confirmed almost 1,900 federal judges, a majority of all federal judges that have served.
In 2000, Hatch sought the Republican nomination for president, saying he had more experience in Washington than his opponents and insisting he could work with Democrats. One of his songs, "Unspoken", went platinum after appearing on "WOW Hits 2005", a compilation of Christian pop music.
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