SALT LAKE CITY — U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch reiterated Thursday that he intends to run for re-election in 2018 but said his wife’s trepidation is giving him pause.

The 83-year-old Hatch said he suspects he’ll need to decide before the end of the year, but said he’s not putting any hard timeline on it.

“Right now, I intend to run. But you know, Elaine (his wife) is not real enthusiastic about it, which causes me to pause a little bit,” Hatch said. “But, I’m chairman of the finance committee, the most powerful committee in the whole Congress and we’re doing work that has never been done before and that needs to be done.”

Hatch said after winning in 2012 that this term would be his last. But this year he’s opened the door to another six years, saying he has more work to do and is being encouraged to run again.

“It’s not trying to hang on to it, it’s trying to do what I know I can do,” Hatch said.

Hatch, who has been in office since 1977, also spoke about the health care overhaul and North Korea during his visit Thursday to a new state crime lab in a Salt Lake City suburb:


HEALTH CARE

Sen. Hatch said he supports fellow Utah Sen. Mike Lee’s right to propose his consumer choice amendment, but said he won’t be happy if it ruins the Republican effort to repeal much of President Barack Obama’s health care law.

“He’s sincere, he’s dedicated. But there comes a time when you have to do the art of the doable back there or you won’t get anything done,” Hatch said.

He said Democrats just want “socialized medicine” and that he’s not worried about critics.

“We’ve got a society that is used to having the government do everything for them, or at least certain segments of the society,” Hatch said. “No government can do everything for everybody the way they want it.”


NORTH KOREA

Hatch said he’s very concerned about North Korea’s missile launch this week, calling it a “rogue country that could cause havoc” around the world. But, Hatch said he believes President Donald Trump is handling the situation well.

Trump this week warned that he’s considering “some pretty severe things” but offered no details. He also called on all nations to confront North Korea’s “very, very bad behavior.”

Hatch said the best approach would be to have China step up and shut down North Korea since the country relies on China for food and financial incentives. He didn’t rule out supporting military action.

“Military action is always a possibility if the United States’ freedom is decimated or interfered with but I think Trump is handling it very well. President Trump is much smarter than some of his critics believe. I’ve watched him in the Oval Office make some very, very critical decisions that are right. He’s nobody to push around, I’ll tell ya.”