It appears he took their advice to heart.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, announced his retirement on Tuesday, a little over a week after his home state newspaper, The Salt Lake Tribune, called for him to do so.
The news fueled immediate speculation of a possible Mitt Romney run.
Hatch, the longest-serving Republican politician in U.S Senate history, played a key role in the recently passed tax reform, as well as sponsoring numerous retirement plan-related proposals, including the push for the “min-rothification” of defined contribution plans and limits on stretch IRAs.
“Only in a nation like ours could someone like me, the scrappy son of a simple carpenter, grow up to become a United States senator,” he said in a video announcement detailing his legislative successes and his amateur boxing career decades earlier. “Every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves, and for me, that time is soon approaching. That’s why after much prayer and discussion with family and friends, I’ve decided to retire at the end of this term.”
“It would be good for Utah if Hatch, having finally caught the Great White Whale of tax reform, were to call it a career. If he doesn’t, the voters should end it for him,” the Tribune wrote on Christmas Day, before noting what it called “his utter lack of integrity that rises from his unquenchable thirst for power.”
In either a misunderstanding or cheeky self-deprecation (depending on whom you believe), Hatch tweeted his appreciation for being named “Utahn of the Year.”
“Grateful for this great Christmas honor from the Salt Lake Tribune,” Hatch crowed. “For the record, I voted for @SpencerJCox and @rudygobert27. #utpol”
Yet the designation is awarded to an individual who makes a significant impact for good or ill. In the case of the politico, the paper thought it the latter and followed with a scathing editorial.
Opponents were quick to point and laugh at the Twitter gaffe, arguing that it appeared the senator only read the headline, and not the piece itself.
David Corn of The Nation tweeted:
“This is very, very funny. Read the article Hatch thinks is an ‘honor.’ Oh, boy. Guess he read this article as closely as GOP senators read the tax bill before voting for it.”
The similarly aligned Talking Points Memo headlined its write-up “Hatch Fooled by Newspaper Editorial Calling for His Retirement.”
But his office pushed back, claiming the tweet was tongue and cheek, and that the senator is well aware of the paper’s editorial position regarding his tenure.
“You’d have to be very new to ‘Twitter_Hatch’ to think this tweet was anything but tongue-in-cheek,” Hatch spokesman Matt Whitlock tweeted at the time. “This is at least the 4th editorial the Tribune has written in the last two years urging Hatch to retire. Might as well have a chuckle about it. On Christmas.”