A spokeswoman for Romney didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on Hatch's retirement announcement, and it is unclear if he is interested in succeeding the elder statesman in the upper chamber. I've always been a fighter.
It wasn't that much of an honor, though: An editorial accompanying the recognition said, among other things, "It would be good for Utah if Hatch, having finally caught the Great White Whale of tax reform, were to call it a career".
In a statement, Hatch said he made a decision to retire at the end of his seventh term after "much prayer and discussion with family and friends" over the holiday break.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Hatch's leadership will be greatly missed.
When Romney opposed Roy Moore, Bannon's favored candidate in last month's special election for a U.S. Senate seat in Alabama, Bannon hit Romney with a personal attack.
Hatch also served as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and was at the center of numerous biggest confirmation battles.
An announcement from Senator Orrin G. Hatch.
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.
"We are going to make this the greatest presidency we have seen, not only in generations, but maybe ever", Mr. Hatch said.
Bachmann, a former Tea Party star, would likely run a campaign more in line with Trump's branding: In a recent interview with Jim Bakker, she predicted that "the swamp" would push back against her candidacy, an allusion to Trump's anti-Washington tagline, "drain the swamp".
Mr. Romney was unaware of Mr. Hatch's decision and of late had been operating under the assumption that the senator would run again, not even bringing up the possibility of a campaign while skiing Monday with friends in Utah.
In 2000, Hatch sought the Republican nomination for president, saying he had more experience in Washington than his opponents and insisting he could work with Democrats. During his time on the committee, the Senate has confirmed almost 1,900 federal judges, a majority of all federal judges that have served.