I choose not to believe this, and not just because I’ve been dreaming for months of six years of easy Senate-related Romney trollblogging. Romney strikes me as the kind of guy who, if asked by Hatch whether he wants to run, would say no purely because he doesn’t want to pressure an elderly senior statesman to retire. If Hatch ends up deciding of his own free will that it’s time to go, though, then … Mittmentum.
Reasonable theory or deep, deep denial? Trump skeptics must find their glimmers of hope in the GOP’s post-apocalyptic MAGA landscape where they can, my friends.
“I’ve talked to Mitt Romney. He’s not going to run for this seat. I would be glad for him if he would,” Hatch told reporters.
Asked if Romney is not running because Hatch will run for an eighth term, Hatch responded: “No. I’ve chatted with Mitt, and he’s not going to run for the Senate.”
Hatch has been raising money, suggesting he may run again.
“Mitt Romney would be perfect,” Hatch said in late March when asked who he’d like to succeed him if he retires. A week later rumors began swirling that Romney was considering a Senate run in Utah, seriously enough that he and Mitch McConnell had discussed it. Now here’s Hatch squashing the dreams of old-school RINOs everywhere. Maybe the old guy resents the buzz around Romney that seems to have people ushering him towards the door?
According to the site Utah Policy, Hatch is in fact quietly leaning towards retirement:
UtahPolicy.com has been told by various sources that U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, is leaning against running for re-election in 2018, and will likely retire. The second part of the rumor is that Mitt Romney is very likely to seek Hatch’s seat…
He clearly is waiting out the field – by not announcing his intentions, by not actually starting a campaign – he is keeping other legitimate GOP candidates from announcing, or starting a campaign. Some prospective candidates are becoming impatient and a little irritated that Hatch hasn’t announced his plans.
UtahPolicy is hearing that Hatch will announce in the fall, perhaps as early as August, that he intends to retire and devote his efforts to the Hatch Foundation – which UtahPolicy.com has discussed previously.
If you’re hoping for a Romney comeback, you should wish not just for Hatch’s retirement but for the continued political ambitions of Evan McMullin, who’s under suspicion on the Hill for having been the source of that audio of Kevin McCarthy joking about Trump and Russia that WaPo published last week. A McMullin Senate candidacy is a nightmare in the making for the GOP: He’ll use the campaign to lash Trump and, if Hatch’s seat is vacant, he may have enough name recognition in the state at this point to actually win it. He’d spend the next six years in Washington making Trump miserable and trying to rebuild his frayed ties to congressional Republicans. If he gets in, the party will either put a ton of pressure on Hatch to reconsider and run for reelection or they’ll draft Romney knowing that (a) he’d defeat McMullin easily in the primary and (b) a “Mitt comeback!” narrative for the media would help drown out McMullin’s amplified attacks on Trump. Although the outcome is a foregone conclusion, a Romney/McMullin primary would at least be fun as an exercise in one ardent anti-Trumper dogging another for having sold out (a little). McMullin would remind Romney of the endless vituperation he threw at Trump during the primaries last year and Mitt would hem and haw his way through his answers, and then he’d win by 40 points. May the coming Trump/Romney alliance last a thousand years.