Donald Trump claimed on Thursday that Senator Orrin Grant Hatch once told him that he’s the greatest president ever in the history of the United States. In return, Trump called Hatch a “very spectacular man” and said that he “loves” the veteran politician.
The president was with other Republicans at the 240-year-old The Greenbrier resort in West Virginia for a GOP retreat. The party was charting out its next steps regarding the midterm election and thereafter. In one instance while he was addressing the group of politicians, Trump singled out the 83-year-old Republican senator out of Utah and thanked him for calling him the “greatest president in his lifetime,” according to the New York Post.
Trump asked around for Hatch as the president extended his gratitude to the long-time senator and lawyer.
“I want to thank Senator, finance chairman and a very spectacular man, Orrin Hatch. Where is Orrin,” Trump said. “Orrin is – I love listening to him speak. He said once, I am the single greatest president in his lifetime.”
Trump then cracked a joke about Hatch’s age before lining himself up with former presidents Abraham Lincoln and George Washington.
“He’s young,” Trump said about Hatch. “So that’s not saying much. But he also said I was the greatest president in history. I said, ‘Does that include Lincoln and Washington?'”
According to Trump, Hatch agreed that he was better than the two American icons.
“I love this guy,” Trump said.
— The Hill (@thehill) February 1, 2018
The office of Sen. Hatch later clarified that Trump misunderstood what he actually said, according to The Hill. Hatch apparently told Trump that he “can be” and not “is” the best president ever.
Hatch spokesperson Matt Whitlock explained that the senator only said he was willing to help Trump become the greatest president in the history of the United States.
“Hatch has said that he would like to work with the President to make this the greatest presidency in history for the American people,” Whitlock said.
Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs later tweeted, “Per Hatch spox, he has said that Trump ‘can be’ the greatest president ever but has never said ‘is.'”
Hatch himself spoke about the president’s claims via Twitter. Hatch clarified that while he didn’t exactly say Trump was the greatest president ever, he does think he is the best president he has “served ‘under’ in terms of line of succession.”
To be fair, he’s the best President I’ve served “under” in terms of line of succession.
If we’re talking best Presidents I’ve served alongside, that list would also include Lincoln, Reagan, and James K. Polk, who really knew how to command a room.https://t.co/BTZn4osogs
— Orrin Hatch (@OrrinHatch) November 29, 2017
Hatch has served under seven presidents in four decades having been a senator since 1977. He recently announced his retirement from the Senate.
Joan Walsh, national affairs correspondent for the Nation, had an explanation to why Trump claimed Hatch called him the greatest president in history. Rich Lowry, editor of the National Review, and Walsh joined CNN’s OutFront host Erin Burnett in discussing the “greatest president” brouhaha.
Lowry said Trump has a propensity to exaggerate things, leading him to think that Hatch said what he thought he said. For Walsh, however, Trump insisting that he was called such was simply because he has “the instinct of a liar.”
"It is just the instinct of a liar" – Joan Walsh reacts to Donald Trump falsely claiming that Sen. Orrin Hatch called him the single greatest president ever https://t.co/UQhFvbOhZl pic.twitter.com/bVsJC8qGMS
— OutFrontCNN (@OutFrontCNN) February 2, 2018