Sen. Orrin Hatch embarrassingly showered Donald Trump with effusive praise to celebrate passage of the party's tax legislation and cementing the establishment's connection to his unpopular presidency.
Utah's Orrin Hatch, the most senior Republican in the U.S. Senate, spoke at Donald Trump's ceremony to celebrate the passage of the GOP tax bill and embarrassingly gushed over Trump's leadership.
Hatch told Trump he was "one heck of a leader" who is "living up to everything I thought you would." He told Trump, who was mostly absent from the effort to push the bill, that it "could not have passed without you" and that he was able to get his agenda through via "sheer will."
As if that was not over the top enough, Hatch also said Trump was bringing Americans "to a realization of how really great America really is" and that he is a "president of the United States who I love and appreciate so much."
Hatch even said Trump's presidency would be the greatest "we've seen not only in generations but maybe ever" — an especially audacious claim given Trump's historically low approval rating and massive failures in his first year in office.
HATCH: Mr. President I have to say that you're living up to everything I thought you would. You're one heck of a leader and we're all benefiting from it. This bill could not have passed without you – couldn't have passed without the Alaskan delegation, couldn't have passed without the leadership in the House and the Senate. Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and the other leaders as well. All I can say is that we're making headway, this is just the beginning. If nothing, think about it, this president hasn't even been in office for a year and look at all the things that he's been able to get done, by sheer will in many ways.
And I just hope that we all get behind him every way we can, and we'll get this country turned around in ways that will benefit the whole world. But above all, benefit our people and bring us all to a realization of how really great America really is. And how the rest of the world depends on us. I love this country, I came from very humble roots and I have to say that this is one of the great privileges of my life to stand here on the White House lawn with the president of the United States who I love and appreciate so much and with these wonderful colleagues and Cabinet members who stand behind us.
And to see all of you and realize that you care too. All I can say is that God loves this country — we all know it we wouldn't be where we are without him and we love all of you. And we're gonna keep fighting and we're gonna make this the greatest presidency that we've seen not only in generations but maybe ever.
Hatch is embracing Trump as rumors swirl that Mitt Romney might run for his seat. Embracing Trump might be a part of that calculation, but a misread of his home state. While Utah went to Trump, it was one of his weaker red state performances.
Trump got 45.9 percent of the vote there, down tremendously from Romney's 72.6 percent in 2012. Independent candidate Evan McMullin, who was campaigning as an anti-Trump Republican, earned 21 percent of the vote there — his highest performance in the election. Hillary Clinton even did 3 percent better in Utah than Barack Obama did, a testament to the ruby-red state's distaste for Trump.
Nationally, Hatch is a good barometer of the extent to which pro-Trumpism has become the lifeblood of the Republican Party. Long gone is the distance between the establishment at Trump that materialized after the Access Hollywood tape. Instead, party stalwarts like Hatch are all-in.
For Hatch, this recently manifested during a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee, where he melted down after criticism from Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who pointed out how the GOP tax proposal was so heavily weighted in favor of the super-rich.
"I come from poor people, and I’ve been here working my whole stinking career," Hatch fumed. Banging his gavel loudly, he added, "So don’t you spew that stuff on me! I get a little tired of that crap!"
In another instance, Hatch demonstrated his support for the Trump agenda when he argued that while the tax plan and its multi-billion-dollar giveaways had to pass, programs like CHIP shouldn't get funding. CHIP — the Children’s Health Insurance Program — expired in September, even as Republicans like Hatch pushed a tax plan that will create a $1 trillion deficit.
Hatch simply brushed off the issue and noted, "The reason CHIP is having trouble is because we don’t have money anymore."
Prioritize the wealthy, fume when called on it, deny help to sick children — and do all of that while praising Donald Trump over and over. Orrin Hatch has it all covered.