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Utah's Hatch officially ends White House bid
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Washington • Sen. Orrin Hatch is no longer running for president.

Of course, Hatch hasn't actually eyed the Oval Office for some 13 years, but according to federal election filings, he was technically still exploring the idea up until June.

Alas, the campaign has finally ended.

After years of inactivity, the Federal Election Commission shuttered the Orrin Hatch Presidential Exploratory Committee on June 3, ending the quarterly reporting of a lack of contributions for the senator's brief stint as a White House candidate.

So, Hatch is over the idea of occupying the White House?

"He's focusing on effecting good government from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue," says Hatch's chief of staff, Michael Kennedy.

Hatch, as Utahns and a few folks in Iowa recall, jumped into the crowded race for the presidency in 1999, promising to reduce taxes, abolish the IRS, defend the Second Amendment, protect America's health care system and restore "integrity, candor and personal honesty to the White House."

His low budget campaign — he asked for $36 from donors to poke fun of another candidate's $36 million war chest — earned him a whole 1 percent in the Iowa caucuses and "Orrin's Skinny Cat Campaign" was over.

Along the way, Hatch borrowed $255,000 from his Senate campaign to keep things rolling on his national bid, most of which was paid off in the ensuing years. The exploratory campaign still technically owes $62,750.85 to the Senate effort and Kennedy says Hatch could still raise cash to pay that back at some point in the future.

Meanwhile, even Hatch's detractors were sorry to hear the Utahn's race was over.

"Like most Utahns, we're deeply saddened, of course, by the withdrawal of Sen. Orrin Hatch from presidential consideration," said Utah Democratic Party Chairman Jim Dabakis. "Considering what happened in the 2000 election, it would have been a bonanza for the country to have had a President Orrin Hatch."

Hatch noted in his book, Square Peg, a running joke at the Capitol is that when one walks into the Senate and yells, "Mr. President!" a hundred senators turn around.

"I always thought that was unfair," Hatch wrote in the book. "The number is more like 95, because there are always at least five current members of the Senate who have actually run for the presidency at some point and had their delusions brutally eviscerated by reality. I am one of them."

tburr@sltrib.com

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