SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Orrin Hatch gave what amounted to a campaign speech in the Utah Legislature on Friday.
The six-term Republican ended his lengthy and rambling remarks to the House of Representatives saying, "And just for your information, I'm gonna win."
Hatch spoke and answered questions on both the House and Senate floors.
The senator is seeking re-election this year, and has at least two intraparty challengers including Rep. Chris Herrod, R-Provo, and former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist. Democrat Pete Ashdown is making a second run for the seat.
Hatch touted his possible ascension to the powerful Senate Finance Committee.
“I wouldn't run again if I wasn't a leader on the Senate Finance Committee. The Senate Finance Committee is where it's at," he said, explaining that most funding issues run through the panel. "About the only one not in there is the defense bill."
Hatch, 76, took issue with the notion that he's served in the Senate long enough. The national tea party group FreedomWorks has mounted a richly financed "Retire Hatch" campaign. Liljenquist also has said it's time to send the senator home.
"I'm not gonna give in and quit just because some people don’t like somebody who served 36 years," he said.
Hatch, the longest serving U.S. senator is Utah's history, said if he gets another six years, he'll work on things that "absolutely have to be done if the country is going to be preserved in its current strong state."
Those include repealing the Obama administration's health care plan, developing new energy sources and reducing the national debt.
The federal government simply must rein in its spending or future generations will pay the price.
"Our kids and grandkids aren't going to have the benefits we have. They're going to be strung out with debt like you can't believe," he said.
Hatch said the nation needs a change in leadership, starting at the top. Hatch said he backs Mitt Romney as the GOP presidential nominee because of his extensive background in business, and as governor and head of the 2002 Winter Games. With Romney, "we don't have to worry about scandal."
Hatch credited Romney for turning around the embattled 2002 Games. "He really had to step on some toes," he said.
As for the Obama administration's proposed cuts in defense spending, Hatch urged a united front to lobby on behalf of Hill Air Force Base, one of the state's largest employers. Hatch described the proposed reductions as "drastic."