WASHINGTON -- Sen. Orrin Hatch has decided to run -- for re-election to the Senate.
But Hatch said Thursday he's still undecided whether to run at the same time for president of the United States, which is allowed by some recent changes in Utah law.About two weeks ago, the Utah Republican told the Deseret News he planned to decide within two weeks whether to form a presidential exploratory committee. He said Thursday that he may need another week or two to finalize that decision.
"I'm still working through it," he said. He has acknowledged previously that he was exploring the availability of a top campaign manager, fund-raisers and other staff.
Other press reports Thursday said he is planning to announce formation of a presidential exploratory committee next week. "I have no comment on that," he said. "I really haven't made a final decision."
Hatch acknowledges, "There's no question about being an underdog and about being a very long shot" for president -- where major candidates have already been campaigning for months and for which Hatch has received no national attention.
Still, he says he may run if he feels it can help focus the presidential debate on important issues. "If I run it won't be for ego or self-aggrandizement, it will be because I want to help my country."
Meanwhile, Hatch said he has definitely decided to run for re-election to the Senate next year. A recent change in Utah law would allow him to run for both offices at the same time but would require him, obviously, to resign the Senate if elected president.
"There's no question that I intend to run for the Senate. I have well over $1 million in the bank for that race," he said. However, experts estimate that presidential candidates would need $20 million to do well in presidential primaries -- and Hatch has not begun fund raising for that race yet.
For years, Texas was the only state that allowed senators to seek re-election and at the same time run for president or vice president.
That allowed former Sens. Lyndon B. Johnson and Lloyd Bentsen to run for vice president. When Bentsen lost as a running mate with Michael Dukakis in 1988, his consolation prize was retaining that Senate seat.