Birthdate: March 22, 1934
Birth Place: Pittsburgh, PA, United States
Residence: Salt Lake City, UT
First Elected: 1976
Orrin Hatch was born in Pittsburgh and now lives in Salt Lake City. He earned a bachelor's in history in 1959 from Brigham Young University and a law degree in 1962 from the University of Pittsburgh.
Hatch grew up playing basketball and boxing. He also learned how to write music, which he continues to write and sell, much of it Mormon hymnals and patriotic tunes.
He practiced law in Utah for several years before winning election to the U.S. Senate in 1976.
He ran for president in 2000, but dropped out of the race after winning only 1 percent of the vote in the Iowa caucuses.
Hatch and his wife, Elaine, have six children.
Orrin Hatch is the longest serving U.S. Senator to come from Utah, winning a record sixth term in 2006 while supporting an unpopular President George W. Bush and a worsening war in Iraq.
Hatch's 2006 re-election victory meant he had surpassed in tenure former Sen. Reed Smoot, who served from 1903 to 1933.
Hatch is well known in Utah for his constituent services and isn't shy about touting his clout in Washington as a reason he should represent the state. During his 2012 campaign for a seventh term, Hatch continually emphasized his seniority on the Senate Finance Committee that would likely make him chairman if the Republicans gained control of the Senate.
His longevity had the potential to pose a problem for him in the 2012 election, as a vocal minority of state GOP delegates and the national tea party group FreedomWorks targeted him because of his incumbency. That forced him into a primary election against former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist, a fiscal conservative half of Hatch's age. However, Hatch prevailed at the state's 2012 GOP primary, winning more than 66 percent of the vote.
The challenge to Hatch stemmed from 2010, when highly conservative delegates to the state GOP convention ousted his colleague, Bob Bennett, in part because Bennett had been in office for three terms.
Hatch took note and campaigned extremely hard for more than two years. He also raised and spent nearly $5 million, making his campaign one of the most expensive is state history. He has repeatedly said that if he wins in 2012 he will retire in 2018.
Hatch has argued that his seniority puts him into a strong position to stop President Barack Obama's agenda. To burnish that image, he voted against one of Obama's Supreme Court nominees, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and opposed Elena Kagan, who Hatch previously voted to confirm as solicitor general.
Hatch has taken a leading role criticizing the 2010 health care reform bill, which is generally disdained in conservative Utah.
Hatch's unflinching conservatism is softened by a personal graciousness that has allowed him to forge productive working relationships with Democrats, most notably the late Sen. Edward Kennedy. The two often partnered on bills related to children and Kennedy once crossed the aisle to hug Hatch. When Kennedy died, Hatch said they were like fighting brothers and that it would take someone like the two of them to get a health care bill that Republicans and Democrats could both agree with.
Hatch ran a long-shot presidential campaign in 2000, but he dropped out of the race after the Iowa caucuses. He became a stalwart supporter of President George W. Bush, championing the Patriot Act and other White House proposals. Hatch equated the war in Iraq to fighting terrorism and he supported former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who faced widespread criticism for his handling of the war, saying Rumsfeld did a good job.
Hatch was chairman of the Judiciary Committee from 1995 to 2001. Self-imposed term limits for chairmen forced him to step down from the post. He then took over the Judiciary subcommittee on intellectual property, a posting that generated publicity when he moved against online piracy.
Hatch was demonized on Internet forums for saying that he might support a program that destroys the computers of people who illegally download music. He later backpedaled, saying he was suggesting that zapping Internet pirates' computers might be acceptable only as a last resort.
The piracy issue is personal for Hatch. He has written dozens of religious hymns and patriotic ballads, including "America United" and "America Rocks!" His work has been performed by the Osmonds and Gladys Knight, among other artists, and has helped inform his views on copyright issues.
Source: Associated Press