>> I, after much prayer, and discussion with family and friends, have decided to retire at the end of this term.>> The Senate's longest serving Republican says he won't run for re-election, paving the way for a possible Senate bid by Mitt Romney. I'm Andy Sullivan in Washington, where the wave of Republican retirement continues.
Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah is the latest to say that he wont run for reelection in November. That clears the way for Romney, the party's 2012 presidential nominee. He has close ties to Utah and he's hinted that he is interested in a Senate bid. But that can lead to headaches for President Donald Trump.
Romney is one of his most prominent Republican critics.>> And we're gonna keep fighting.>> Hatch, at age 83, is announcing his retirement on a high note, having played a leading role in the massive tax cut package that President Trump signed into law last month. A Senate fixture since 1977, Hatch is the latest Republican lawmaker to announce his retirement, ahead of what could be a difficult election for the GOP in November as it tries to hold on to control of Congress.
Romney, who's seen as a leading contender for the seat called Trump a phony and a fraud during the campaign. That didn't stop Romney from meeting with Trump after the election when his name was floated for Secretary of State. And he's gone after Trump as President for his handling of the Charlottesville neo-nazi march, and for pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement.
A senate seat would give Romney a high profile perch to call out Trump when he sees fit, and work to advance Republican priorities when the two are seeing eye to eye. Romney's not saying anything at the moment, he's thanking Hatch for his service, and leaving it at that, but we're likely to find out on the coming days and weeks, whether he's gonna get back in the game.