But Hatch said he has not changed for the Tea Party. He's always been conservative.
And to people who say he's not conservative enough?
"Well, they didn't see me lead labor law reform, I guess, back in the '70s. They didn't see me do all kinds of other things. No, I haven't changed. If you look at it, I've always had a pretty solid conservative voting record," he said, rattling off ratings from conservative groups. "You add it all up, it's pretty hard to say I'm not a right-wing conservative."
Hatch said even conservatives have to make deals on Capitol Hill. "I do believe that one thing that's lacking around here is the ability to bring both sides together," he said.
And in that way he is perhaps like his preferred potential Republican Presidential contender.
There are two Mormons mulling candidacies, and Hatch sits squarely in the camp of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who also faces questions from the party faithful about his conservative bona fides.
"Romney basically is a conservative, there's no question about that," said Hatch. "But he's a smart conservative. He's somebody who's practical. He has the economic wherewithal and ability to take this country over and do for it what it really needs to be done. And he has the guts to do it. And that's important in my eyes. I contrast that with President Obama."
Hatch said he could support the other Mormon, U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, "if he came through."
Huntsman would have to survive the fact that he spent the past two years working for a Democratic President as an ambassador – something President Obama pointed out during a Chinese state visit. That was a calculated and savvy move by the President, according to Hatch.
"The President just slammed (Huntsman) pretty hard by saying that he's been a wonderful ambassador for his wing, right?" asked Hatch. "I'm sure John Huntsman was very efficient but I've got to give the President credit, he's really good at slamming people with a soft touch that when you pick yourself up you wonder what hit you."