Hatch: Romney would have my support if he runs for Senate
© Greg Nash

Outgoing Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchSenators, staffers lament the end of 50 Most Beautiful Republicans refuse to back opioids bill sponsored by vulnerable Dem Overnight Health Care: Rep. Debbie Dingell on the pain and tragedy of the opioids crisis | DEA moves to curb opioid oversupply | Dem says Trump pick opposes VA privatization MORE (R-Utah) said Wednesday that former GOP presidential nominee Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyRyan’s exit scrambles Wisconsin House race Feehery: Don’t call the game before it’s over Top Ways and Means Republican staffer joining lobbying firm MORE would have his support if he runs to take his place in the Senate. 

Hatch's remarks come a day after the 83-year-old senator announced his retirement. President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Dems add five candidates to ‘Red to Blue’ program White House notifies Russia that no new sanctions are coming: report Senators push HHS to negotiate lower prices on opioid overdose reversal drug MORE had urged Hatch to stay in the seat, reportedly as an attempt to block Romney from taking the Senate spot.

"There's no question that he loves Utah and wants to support Utah any way he can. And I'm hopeful he'll run, because he would be just fine," Hatch said in a radio interview on Utah's Morning News program. "And he would certainly be somebody who I think could succeed me into the job. We haven't spoken in the last few days, but if Mitt decides to run, he knows he'll have my support."

Hatch, who served in the Senate for four decades, announced his retirement on Tuesday after hinting that he may run again in 2018. Romney, a fellow Mormon, has long been rumored as a replacement for the veteran senator. 

While Romney has yet to formally announce whether he will run for the seat, Hatch said he hopes Romney goes for it, but suggested there were other quality candidates with potential. 

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"We've got some excellent people waiting in the wings. I hope, you know, especially Mitt Romney, if he wants to run. I don't know that he will," Hatch said. "I would certainly feel good if he did and if the folks in Utah would support him, but there are others too."

Romney reportedly met with top Republicans last year in preparation for a possible run. Hatch said that he had conversations with Romney where he "explored with him what he had on his mind."