President Trump said Monday that he would encourage Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch to seek re-election amid speculation that the 83-year-old lawmaker may retire rather than run for his eighth term.

Asked during a tour of a Mormon church in Utah whether he would push Hatch to run in 2018, Trump responded, "Yes."

Former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney has emerged as a potential contender for Hatch's Senate seat should the Senate Finance Committee chairman decide to leave Congress after next year.

Steve Bannon, former White House chief strategist, has mulled endorsing Hatch in 2018 in order to block Romney, a Trump critic, from the Senate.

Trump declined to weigh in on Romney's prospects Monday when asked by reporters about the former Massachusetts governor. Trump briefly considered Romney for secretary of state in his own administration despite their frequent disagreements during the campaign.

"He's a good man, Mitt's a good man," Trump said.