Sen. Orrin Hatch is hitting back at a scathing Salt Lake Tribune editorial being spread far and wide online in which the paper's editorial board calls on the 83-year-old to retire at the end of his term.
The editors note that "after 42 years, [Hatch] is the longest-serving Republican senator in USA history, that he has been a senator from Utah longer than three-fifths of the state's population has been alive".
"Each of these actions stands to impact the lives of every Utahn, now and for years to come", the editorial claims.
Rather, the editors wrote, the selection stemmed from the role Hatch played in "dismantling" two national monuments with the Trump administration's help; his role in writing the tax code overhaul; and his "utter lack of integrity that rises from his unquenchable thirst for power".
"It would be good for Utah if Hatch, having finally caught the Great White Whale of tax reform, were to call it a career", the editorial says. "And Hatch, as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has his fingerprints all over it".
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In May, he reportedly told the audience at a charity benefit, "I was the first guy on TV to say, 'Give Trump a chance.' I f--ed up".
But Matt Whitlock, Hatch's communications director, made clear in a Tuesday tweet that Hatch's seemingly approving tweet was "tongue-in-cheek".
While Hatch seemed unaware of why he received the dubious honor, Twitter users proved to be the type of people who go beyond the headlines and mocked the GOP lawmaker for giving positive attention to a story that leads to a call for him to retire. "A favor done in return for Hatch's support of the president generally and of his tax reform plan in particular".
Hatch's official Twitter account shared a photograph of the Salt Lake Tribune's Christmas day front page, which was covered with a portrait of Hatch. "If he doesn't, the voters should end it for him", the newspaper said.
"Clearly, it was a lie", the Tribune said. "Hatch has moved to freeze the field to make it nigh unto impossible for any number of would-be senators to so much as mount a credible challenge".
Former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been considering a 2018 run for Hatch's seat should the elder statesman step down. "It is basically a theft from the Utah electorate", the editorial said.