Hatch says Chaffetz pledged not to run against him

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch and U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz are locking horns over whether the freshman congressman pledged not to run against Utah's six-term senator in 2012.

Hatch told KCPW radio station on Friday that fellow Republican Chaffetz made such a promise during a meeting in the senator's office last year.

"Jason has been with me right in my office and said that he's not going to run against me, and made it very, very clear," Hatch said during an interview with KCPW.

Jason has been with me right in my office and said that he's not going to run against me, and made it very, very clear.

–Sen Orrin Hatch

Chaffetz says he told Hatch that he wasn't going to run against U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett, but denies ever telling Hatch he wouldn't run against him in 2012.

"That never happened. I have no idea what he's thinking about," he said. "I told him I wasn't going to run against Bob Bennett. Wrong senator."

Chaffetz said any decision about running for the Senate will come in 14 to 15 months, and he's focusing now on his current re-election bid against Democrat Karen Hyer. Chaffetz defeated veteran incumbent Rep. Chris Cannon in 2008.

Hatch spokeswoman Heather Barney later issued a statement rebutting Chaffetz's denial.

"Look, Jason can break his word anytime he wants to," Barney said. "Jason's commitment not to run against Senator Hatch made last year in a meeting in Hatch's office isn't up for interpretation. He said it."

"Senator Hatch takes very seriously the principle of keeping his word. Of course, I suppose Jason can break it any time he wants to. Let's leave it at that," she added.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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