When President Donald Trump made his first presidential visit to Utah last month, he told octogenarian Senator Orrin Hatch, “We hope you will continue to serve your state and your country in the Senate for a very long time to come.” Alas, Hatch has dashed Trump’s hopes. “Every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves. And for me, that time is soon approaching,” Hatch said on Tuesday in a video announcement, according to Politico. “That’s why after much prayer and discussion with family and friends, I’ve decided to retire at the end of this term.”
Trump likely wanted Hatch to remain in office to foreclose a bid by Mitt Romney, a leading Trump critic and strong favorite for Hatch’s seat. But as I reported in December, there are ways in which Trump shouldn’t fear the prospect of Senator Romney. The former Massachusetts governor almost certainly would have voted for the Republican tax bill, and National Review editor Rich Lowry told me that “Romney would be a more reliable vote for the lion’s share of the Trump agenda than Roy Moore,” the Senate candidate in Alabama who lost to Democrat Doug Jones.
I’m on record urging Romney to run in Utah. Arizona Senator Jeff Flake is leaving the Senate. His colleague Senator John McCain is sick. If a Democrat can’t win in Utah, America could use another Republican who’s at least willing to challenge Trump’s assault on American political norms and shameful moral equivalency in Charlottesville—assuming Romney continues to be that same man if and when he makes it to Washington.