"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, if you like Hatch, you're all right by me."
That may be the motto of the Utah Republicans next week when boxing legend Muhammad Ali attends a special reception hosted by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, in New Orleans and later when Ali also comes to Salt Lake City in early September to help kick off Hatch's re-election effort.
GOP state chairman Craig Moody said the Utah delegation and friends will be invited to Hatch's New Orleans reception, which will be held next Wednesday evening during the National Republican Convention.
Bud Scruggs, Hatch's campaign manager, said Ali has also tentatively agreed to come to Utah in early September to attend Hatch's official campaign re-election kickoff an-nouncement.
Scruggs said Hatch and Ali became friends last year.
"Ali called the senator and asked for help for a potential appointment to the Justice Department." Hatch is the ranking minority member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which reviews such appointments.
"The senator, at first, didn't believe that Ali was really calling him. The senator was a boxer as a youth, his son is a boxer and (Hatch) has always been a fan of Ali." When Hatch picked up the telephone and heard that famous voice, he recognized it immediately." Hatch has talked to most of the famous people in the world but got a real thrill out of talking to Ali, Scruggs said.
The man Ali favored got the job in the Justice Department, and one day, with no warning, Ali walked into Hatch's Washington, D.C., Senate offices and presented Hatch with an autographed punching bag. The two talked for several hours and have communicated since.
Vice President George Bush heard of Hatch's friendship with Ali and asked Hatch to intercede on his behalf with the former heavyweight champion. "He'd like Ali to endorse him for president," Scruggs said.
"It's clear that Ali isn't partisan in his politics. He's supporting some Democrats this election year. The senator has set up a meeting between Ali and the vice president in New Orleans. Bush will have to close the sale himself, Orrin can't deliver Ali into his camp. Ali goes with the candidate he feels good about personally, and he feels good about the senator."
Ali has even suggested that Bush should consider Hatch as a vice presidential choice, but Hatch has explained to Ali that that isn't what he wants and that he isn't a viable alternative for Bush.
"The senator has always followed Ali's career with great interest. Both Orrin and Ali came from poor, humble backgrounds. Both succeeded in life. The senator was delighted to learn that his respect for Ali is returned by the champ," said Scruggs.