Trump tries to block Mitt Romney from becoming Utah senator

Lesser of two evils Bannon considers backing Orrin Hatch in Utah to block Mitt Romney

Trump tries to block Mitt Romney from becoming Utah senator

President Donald Trump has urged Sen.

President Donald Trump said on Monday he wants U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah to run for re-election, a move that puts Trump on a collision course with Republican rival Mitt Romney, who wants to run for Hatch's seat.

Romney has been a critic of Trump's when he ran for president and since he assumed office. Republican officials say Romney, a Utah resident who was the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, has been preparing to run for Hatch's seat next year.

Hatch spokesman Matthew Whitlock said "the senator appreciates the president's support and plans to make a decision on whether or not to run again by the end of the year".

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. "I don't know that he knows what he's going to get with Romney, but it's not going to be what he's got with Hatch", Jowers reportedly said. Their suspicions are warranted: Trump has sounded off to friends about how he doesn't like the idea of a Senator Romney, Politico reports. When Trump was asked if he wants Hatch to run for an eighth term in 2018, he replied, "Yes". While he and Hatch toured a Salt Lake City food pantry alongside leaders of the Church of Latter Day Saints, Trump sidestepped questions of whether he was trying to block Romney from running, saying only "He's a good man". Either way, Trump-not to mention his former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who is allegedly considering a Hatch endorsement-may not have much of a choice in the matter. Trump previously said he is doing it for Hatch.

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Hatch will accompany Trump on his trip to Salt Lake, to his meetings and the signing of an executive order that will reduce the size of the Bears Ears and Escalante national monuments. The president last week also praised Hatch's efforts on passing the Republican tax bill.

During the 2016 presidential primary race, he labeled Trump a fraud and a phony in a University of Utah speech. Several were teenagers at the time.

Romney softened his opposition before the election, however, and was briefly considered to serve as Trump's secretary of state.

"No, not the same".

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