Sen. Orrin Hatch Could Die In Office, Rival Says

Sen. Orrin Hatch's Democratic opponent Scott Howell is trying a unique attack line in his race against the state's senior senator: telling voters Hatch could die during his next term.

"Orrin Hatch is not a bad guy. But he is an old guy," Howell said in a fundraising letter. The letter notes that Hatch could "die before his term is through."

The letter, which was first reported by ABC's Salt Lake City affiliate, was sent by the Howell campaign on Sunday.

Hatch is 78, and if re-elected he will be the most senior Republican senator. He currently shares that distinction with Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar, who is retiring after losing his Senate primary to Tea Party challenger Richard Mourdock earlier this year.

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Despite his age, Hatch is expected to coast to re-election in the fall in the deep red state. Hatch's campaign manager, Dave Hansen, told ABC 4 Salt Lake that Howell's attacks were an attempt to drum up some attention.

"He's got a campaign that's going nowhere," Hansen said. "Nobody knows who he is."