The Washington Times - April 5, 2011, 04:07PM


Senator Orrin Hatch, Utah Republican, stands firmly behind former Massachusetts Republican Governor Mitt Romney for the Oval Office in 2012.


I spoke to Mr. Hatch on Monday and the Utah Republican praised Mitt Romney as a “totally decent and honorable man.”

“There’s no one running that has the economic background that he has. And that’s what we need right now, and he has the guts to lead,” said Mr. Hatch of fellow Mormon Mitt Romney. “If he can become president, he will take on the world and do what has to be done.”

Sen. Hatch made sure to note he was a friend to all of the other possible GOP candidates for president, but he hailed Mr. Romney as the most financially viable of the bunch that can provide “economic leadership.” 

However, real estate mogul Donald Trump is also eyeing the top of the GOP ticket in 2012. A new poll released by the more liberal Public Policy Polling group shows Mr. Trump could give Mr. Romney a real challenge in the New Hampshire GOP primaries. The Union Leader reports: 

North Carolina-based and Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling says it surveyed 384 “usual New Hampshire Republican primary voters” from March 31 through April 3. It says it found that without Trump included in the list of potential contenders, Romney is supported by 32 percent of those polled, more than double the support for Mike Huckabee, at 15 percent, with Newt Gingrich at 13 percent, Sarah Palin and Ron Paul at 10 percent each, Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann at 4 percent each and Haley Barbour at 2 percent with 12 percent undecided.

But when businessman Trump is added to the list, Romney’s lead diminishes, according to PPP.

It says it found that Romney leads Trump 27 to 21 percent, with Gingrich and Huckabee at 12 percent each and the others remaining in single digits.

The margin of error for the poll is 5 percent, according to PPP, meaning the Romney-Trump numbers are close to a virtual tie.

“I know [Trump] pretty well. He’s a friend, but the Donald is having the time of his life talking about [running for president.], said Senator Hatch. “I think he’d really be formidable, because he’s got a lot of money and he’s got a great ability to express himself and to talk turkey. People like to hear it.”

The Utah senator pointed out, though, that Mr. Trump may not be getting hammered too hard by the press at the moment for the New Yorker’s comments, likely referring to Mr. Trump’s views on President Obama’s birth certificate but the senator said real estate billionaire could very well be hurt later by the media for making these remarks.

“He’s a great guy, but these are the big leagues where every word you say…and the media will allow him to pontificate on a lot of things without hurting him until it gets really tough and that point, you really got to have a lot of experience,” said Mr. Hatch.