During his nearly 41 years in office, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch has seen seven presidents in the White House. Donald Trump, he said Wednesday, is “one of the best I’ve served under.”
“He’s not afraid to make decisions,” Hatch said during an interview broadcast by MSNBC. “He’s not afraid to take on the big mouths around here.”
The Republican senator later clarified online that Trump is “the best president I’ve served ‘under’ in terms of line of succession.” Hatch, 83, is third in the line for the presidency as Senate president pro tem, and apparently wanted to dispel any implication that he believed that Congress is subordinate to the executive branch. He joked that “if we’re talking best presidents I’ve served alongside, that list would also include Lincoln, Reagan and James K. Polk, who really knew how to command a room.”
Jimmy Carter was elected president the same year that Hatch won his first term in 1976. And while Abraham Lincoln and James K. Polk were obviously in office decades before Hatch was born in 1934, the senator did serve while Ronald Reagan was in the White House in the 1980s. He also was in the Senate during the presidencies of George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama before Trump was elected last year.
Hatch poking fun at his age is part of an ongoing jest on his social media pages. Earlier this week, the senator responded to a tweet that asked, “Without revealing your actual age, what's something you remember that if you told a younger person they wouldn't understand?” His answer: The Battle of Bunker Hill that took place in 1775.
The senator’s praise for Trump on Wednesday came after a reporter asked him about the president retweeting three anti-Muslim videos, which were posted by an extremist organization in Britain. Hatch said he wasn’t aware of the messages and doesn’t “pay much attention” to Trump’s Twitter account.
The president later tweeted at Hatch on Thursday with a clip from the interview and said “thank you.”
“Let’s continue MAKING AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” Trump wrote. Hatch’s office promptly retweeted the message.