Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch won't stand for re-election

Sen. Orrin Hatch R-Utah listens during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Hatch says he is retiring after four decades in Senate

"Every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves", said 83-year-old Mr Hatch.

Mitt Romney, former MA governor and GOP presidential nominee, is expected to run for Hatch's seat. And the president used a speech in Salt Lake City to say that he hoped Hatch would "continue to serve your state and your country in the Senate for a very long time to come".

Romney did not have an immediate public reaction to Hatch's announcement. "I will never forget the (beyond kind) statements he has made about me as President", he added.

Bachmann, a former Tea Party star, would likely run a campaign more in line with Trump's branding: In a recent interview with Jim Bakker, she predicted that "the swamp" would push back against her candidacy, an allusion to Trump's anti-Washington tagline, "drain the swamp".

Amid earlier speculation about Hatch's plans, the Utah senator stepped up to defend Romney, a fellow Mormon.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Hatch's leadership will be greatly missed.

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Mr. Romney was unaware of Mr. Hatch's decision and of late had been operating under the assumption that the senator would run again, not even bringing up the possibility of a campaign while skiing Monday with friends in Utah. Sherrod Brown of OH after Brown said Republican tax cuts were aimed at helping the rich.

In the statement announcing his decision to retire, Hatch cited work helping create the Americans with Disabilities Act, expanding children's health insurance and expanding use of generic drugs.

If Hatch had opted to stay in the Senate, he could have faced a formidable challenge from a crop of ambitious Utah Republicans.

For months, Hatch's political future has been on the minds of Republican strategists and officials, many of whom expected him to step down at some at some point soon after the tax bill was completed. He withdrew after only winning 1 percent of the vote in the Iowa caucuses.

Hatch frequently wrote religious songs and recorded music in his spare time as a way to relax from the stresses of life in Washington. One of his songs, "Unspoken", went platinum after appearing on "WOW Hits 2005", a compilation of Christian pop music.

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