Trump built his political brand as an iconoclast
Hatch apparently got a personal request from Trump to stay in office for that eighth term
President Donald Trump stormed Washington with a promise to shake things up and a serious pledge during his inaugural address to transfer power from Washington back to the people. And on many counts he has delivered.
“For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost,” he said.
“The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories; their triumphs have not been your triumphs; and while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land. That all changes – starting right here, and right now,” he said.
And this is the interesting part. Trump built his star power on being master of “The Art of the Deal.” But he built his political brand as an iconoclast.
To make deals in Washington, where he is quickly becoming acclimated, the President might have to pull back on some of the shaking up and help people like Sen. Orrin Hatch, who is superglued into the Washington establishment – and apparently got a personal request from Trump to stay in office for that eighth term.
“His pitch is he needs me,” Hatch said of Trump, according to CNN’s Manu Raju. “Things are going to be just fine.”
Hatch, the Utah Republican who turns 83 this month, is currently in his seventh six-year Senate term. He announced Thursday he’ll run for an eighth term in 2018. When that term ends in 2024, Hatch will be 90. He’ll have spent more than half his life as a senator.
Hatch was first elected to the Senate in 1978 and he’s the second-ranking senator in terms of seniority – Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy was just re-elected to his own eighth term in 2016.
Hatch’s bid for reelection will be helped - intentionally or not - by Trump’s nomination of Jon Huntsman, a former Utah governor, to be his ambassador to Russia.
Huntsman, by the way, is no stranger to the establishment as a former governor, arguably moderate Republican and soon-to-be third-time ambassador. He worked for both George HW Bush and, brace yourselves Trump supporters, former President Barack Obama.
Hatch, it has been noted, helped Trump in Utah, where the thrice-married New Yorker, suffering from the secret attitudes toward women uncovered by the Access Hollywood tape, faced possible Republican rebellion from the insurgent last-minute independent bid by Evan McMullin.
Hatch campaigned for Trump and Trump won the state.
Roll Call pointed out the ties run deeper, however. Hatch’s former chief of staff, Rob Porter, now works for Trump as his staff secretary and also helped on Trump’s transition.
And Trump will need entrenched establishment Republicans like Hatch if he is to make his campaign promises a reality. Hatch has worked across party lines and with moderate Republicans on health care in the past.
Take the State Children’s Health Insurance Program – Hatch worked across party lines with then-Sen. Edward Kennedy to pass the program, which provided federal funds to give health insurance to children – during the Clinton administration. He voted against a later version he said became too partisan.
Hatch has been a major force in other pieces of bipartisan legislation, too – the Americans with Disabilities Act, among others.
He’s also been a top backer of multinational trade deals like NAFTA, which Trump wants to renegotiate, and the star-crossed Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Trump pulled the US out of. Hatch also chairs the Senate Finance Committee, which will play an important role in crafting tax reform language Trump lists as a priority and which Republicans hope to consider once they’ve worked to repeal Obamacare. If they can repeal Obamacare. They’ll need dealmakers in the Senate to keep moderates on board.
And Trump will have to temper his promise to unseat the “small group in our nation’s Capital” that has reaped the rewards of government with his growing attachment to the establishment.