Trump backs Sen. Hatch for eighth term in bid to block Romney

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"I've gotten to know a lot of people very well", the president said in introductory remarks focused on Hatch during a Salt Lake City speech about national monuments.

Romney has not publicly addressed his interest in the Utah Senate seat and is not expected to do so before Hatch makes his decision. "He's not afraid to take on the big boss around here".

Politico reported Sunday that Trump is going all out to persuade Hatch to seek re-election in no small part to prevent his longtime nemesis, Romney, from winning the seat.

However, the 83-year-old politician's refusal to leave the office has resulted in Romney's inner circle blaming Trump by claiming that the president is not comfortable with the idea of the former presidential candidate becoming a senator.

James Curry is a political scientist at the University of Utah.

"Orrin, I really hope you will consider running again", Trump reportedly told the seven-term senator in a phone call in October.

Trump called Hatch "a very special man" on Monday. And indeed, Hatch was reportedly telling friends he wouldn't. The Republicans who discussed the matter with Romney recently said they are convinced Trump wants to keep the former MA governor out of the race.

Romney has reportedly been meeting with local GOP power brokers, contacting major donors and campaigning for local candidates -moves seen as steps toward a potential 2018 run for the seat now held by Hatch, according to reports that surfaced earlier this month.

Trump has vowed to try to block Romney, whom he views as a potential thorn in his side in the Senate, according to a White House official and an outside adviser who have discussed the possible bid with the president.

Such concern apparently exists outside the White House as well.

"If Steve had a choice between Orrin Hatch and Mitt Romney, he would pick Hatch 10 times out of 10", the source close to Bannon told the Washington Examiner.

Romney fiercely criticized Trump during last year's campaign and came to personify the "Never Trump" movement for a time.

Breitbart editor in chief and former Trump advisor Steven Bannon also is reportedly trying to keep Romney from running for Senate in his effort to keep establishment Republicans out of Washington.

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