Orrin Hatch, Utah Republican Senator, to retire

Mitt Romney leaves after meeting with US President-elect Donald Trump at the clubhouse of Trump National Golf Club

"I was an amateur boxer in my youth, and I brought that fighting spirit with me to Washington", said Hatch. After cycling through his accomplishments and the praise he has received from President Trump, Hatch called himself a "fighter", but also acknowledged "every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves".

Former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been considering a 2018 run for his seat.

Three candidates from the 2012 Republican presidential primary are now weighing Senate bids, including the eventual GOP nominee Mitt Romney, who is expected to run to succeed Sen.

Hatch also served as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and was at the centre of numerous biggest confirmation battles.

Hatch's announcement rejuvenated already lively talk of a possible Romney return to the political arena.

Hatchs decision comes just weeks after Trump signed a sweeping tax overhaul into law, a measure that the senator helped write as chairman of the Finance Committee. "He has been a tremendous supporter, and I will never forget the (beyond kind) statements he has made about me as President", Trump tweeted Tuesday.

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Romney repeatedly assailed the president during the 2016 campaign, calling Trump "a fraud", and Trump returned the favor, stating that Romney "choked like a dog" in the 2012 race.

The 83-year-old has been publicly weighing whether or not to step down.

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Hatch was first elected to the Senate in 1976. Last month, Trump flew with Hatch on Air Force One to Utah for a day of events that was aimed entirely at lobbying the senator to run again.

Amid earlier speculation about Hatch's plans, the Utah senator stepped up to defend Romney, a fellow Mormon, against criticism from Bannon. Sherrod Brown of OH after Brown said Republican tax cuts were aimed at helping the rich.

No matter who will replace Hatch, his decision to retire has broader implications, given his chairmanship of the important Finance committee and his seniority on other committees.

In the statement announcing his decision not to run again, Hatch cited work with the disadvantaged among his accomplishments, including helping create the Americans with Disabilities Act, expanding children's health insurance and expanding use of generic drugs. One of his songs, "Unspoken", went platinum after appearing on "WOW Hits 2005", a compilation of Christian pop music.

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