Last week, amid the chaotic upheaval caused by Donald Trump's Twitter endorsement of three anti-Muslim videos created by an ultranationalist British group, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch told reporters that Trump was "one of the best presidents I've ever served under", adding, "the reason is he's not afraid to make decisions".
According to Politico, Romney himself has grown frustrated by the "ongoing uncertainty" about Hatch's future plans, especially after the senator encouraged him to consider run in the first place.
Also, Trump's former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, is contemplating endorsing Hatch to block Romney, the Washington Examiner reported Sunday.
However, Utah Republican House Speaker Greg Hughes maintained Romney "could be a great ally of the president, but, as you well know, they're very different people and have very different personalities". Trump himself seemed to confirm the theory during a speech at the Utah State Capitol on Monday, when he addressed Hatch before the crowd.
"I asked for the president's help in fixing this disaster", Hatch said. "We hope you will continue to serve your state and your country in the Senate for a very long time to come", he said. Politico reports that Trump has been telling friends he doesn't want to see Romney in the Senate, and on Monday he'll make a big show of support for Hatch. Dignified and disciplined, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee would become the center of gravity for those in the party who are uncomfortable with Trump's behavior.
Trump called Hatch in October to and requested he run again, sources familiar with the call told Politico. But when the press followed up with a question about whether Trump's enthusiasm for Hatch was meant to deter Romney, he demurred, replying, "He's a good man. Mitt's a good man". His vitriolic outburst perhaps reached its apex on March 3, 2016, when Romney slammed Trump as "a phony" and "a fraud" who is "playing the American public for suckers".
Asked whether he was encouraging Hatch, who is the Senate president pro tempore and chairs its powerful Finance Committee, to run for re-election, Trump said "Yes".
Romney has been considering a Senate run for months, but he may only seek for the GOP nomination if Hatch declines to run for another term.
"If Steve had a choice between Orrin Hatch and Mitt Romney, he would pick Hatch 10 times out of 10", the source said.
"Keep in mind that [Hatch] was the only person in Utah to stick with Trump through the campaign". After the Access Hollywood tape, Hatch said, "I'm not going to judge him by mistakes he made a decade before or more".