Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin HatchCan Trump rebound after failure on healthcare bill? Overnight Finance: US preps cases linking North Korea to Fed heist | GOP chair says Dodd-Frank a 2017 priority | Chamber pushes lawmakers on Trump's trade pick | Labor nominee faces Senate US Chamber urges quick vote on USTR nominee Lighthizer MORE (R-Utah) intends to run for reelection in 2018, he told CNN on Thursday.
Hatch, 82, had said in 2012 that that year’s campaign would be his last. But he’s rethinking that decision after getting encouragement from President Trump to run again.
"I'm planning on [running] right now. That's what my current plans are,” Hatch told CNN.
"His pitch is he needs me," Hatch said of Trump. "Things are going to be just fine."
In a later statement, Hatch's office said the senator hasn't made a final decision.
"Senator Hatch appreciates the encouragement he's receiving to run for reelection. While he has not made a final decision about his plans for 2018, he has made plans thus far to ensure all options remain on the table," the statement read. "His focus remains on the many fast-moving agenda items in the Senate like repealing and replacing Obamacare and confirming Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court."
Hatch has served in the Senate for 40 years.
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman was thought to be considering a primary challenge to Hatch. But Trump has reportedly chosen Huntsman to be the U.S. ambassador to Russia, seemingly taking him out of the running.
Hatch, however, had already dismissed reports that Huntsman, a “longtime friend,” would challenge him.
"I don't think he would have ever run against me, he didn't really want to run for Senate,” Hatch told CNN.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee, declined to rule out a run for Senate as well, saying last month that “all doors are open.”
On the possibility of a tough 2018 challenge, Hatch quipped: ”Anyone who wants to take me on knows it's going to be a real ordeal.”
Hatch first suggested he might run in 2018 late last year, shortly after Trump’s election.
- Updated at 6:05 p.m.