Hatch, Tribune Trade Barbs Over 'Utahn Of The Year' Editorial

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) only reads the headlines - or so it would seem by the senator's decision to highlight a newspaper editorial that's highly critical of the conservative stalwart.

The Salt Lake Tribune, labeling the Republican senator "Utahn of the Year", took issue with Hatch's role in President Donald Trump's decision to shrink national monuments in Utah and his role in the GOP's package of tax cuts and reform. "For good or for ill".

The Salt Lake Tribune editorial board said it also gave Hatch the title because of his key role in the dismantling of two national monuments in Utah and passing the new federal tax code.

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Five years later, Hatch sat on the Senate Judiciary Committee that held hearings on Clarence Thomas's nomination to the Supreme Court.

But Matt Whitlock, Hatch's communications director, made clear in a Tuesday tweet that Hatch's seemingly approving tweet was "tongue-in-cheek".

The 83-year-old has been serving in the Senate since 1977, however, and much of his constituency would like to see him retire at the end of this term, 78 percent according to one recent poll.

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"Grateful for this great Christmas honor from the Salt Lake Tribune", a tweet sent from his account said.

Hatch (or his staffers) were apparently just being "tongue-in-cheek" with the gracious tweet, in which Hatch called the distinction a "great Christmas honor", spokesperson Matt Whitlock said Tuesday afternoon, almost 24 hours after Hatch's tweet. "We all sincerely hope the members of the Salt Lake Tribune editorial board find joy this holiday season in something beyond baselessly attacking the service and integrity of someone who given 40 years for the people of Utah, and served as one of the most effective lawmakers of all time, just to satisfy their unquenchable thirst for clicks". "A favor done in return for Hatch's support of the president generally and of his tax reform plan in particular". That's not only not fair to all of those who were passed over.

Speculation has swirled that former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney would run for the seat if Hatch retired, as a potential challenge to the president's agenda.

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The piece then called on him to not seek another term in 2018 saying the move would choke off a rising generation of leaders in the state and would be nothing less than "theft from the Utah electorate".

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