I’m not another Bob Bennett, Hatch declares in Summit County | ParkRecord.com

I’m not another Bob Bennett, Hatch declares in Summit County

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Sen. Orrin Hatch told a crowd in Summit County on Friday he is a different type of politician than Bob Bennett, the lame duck Republican senator who was cast aside this year in favor of candidates seen as being more conservative than the incumbent.

Hatch, another Republican, appeared at the Wanship Fire Station, saying he is "considerably different than some of these others."

"I’m tough as nails, and you don’t want to lose me," Hatch told a crowd of mixed political persuasions that included ranking Republicans like state Rep. Mel Brown and Democrats like Glenn Wright, the chairman of the Summit County Democratic Party.

Bennett failed to make the primary ballot earlier this year after being outflanked to the right by two Republicans, with Mike Lee winning the Senate seat on Election Day. Many saw Lee as a carrying the flag of the Tea Party movement. Hatch, who is serving his sixth term, won his seat in 1976 and is up for re-election in 2012.

Hatch spoke about the Tea Party movement with high regard, saying it has helped "rev up America." He said he enjoyed watching Christine O’Donnell in her unsuccessful campaign for the Senate in Delaware, a closely monitored contest between O’Donnell, seen as a Tea Party candidate, and her Democratic opponent, Chris Coons.

He fielded a question about the Tea Party, answering that Utahns can expect to see him being more fierce in Washington. He said the Tea Party movement has treated him fairly thus far.

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"I think you’ll find the same conservative you’ve had," Hatch said.

He also mentioned the importance of seniority in the Senate, saying that he anticipates someday holding a key role in the Senate Committee on Finance. But he also acknowledged Congress could become a logjam in January with the Republicans controlling the House of Representatives and the Democrats remaining in power in the Senate.

The Wanship town hall drew approximately 100 people and was hosted by The Save The American Republic Forum, a conservative group active in Summit County and elsewhere. Hatch, dressed in a coat and tie and wearing an American flag pin, spoke in front of a large reproduction of the Declaration of Independence. Some people in the audience carried copies of the U.S. Constitution.

The crowd quizzed Hatch on a wide-ranging set of topics that dwelled on state, national and international issues. Some highlights included:

  • Hatch saying he is dedicated to repealing the health care bill, one of President Obama’s top legislative victories. He called the legislation a "big-spending bill" and said Washington should not force Americans to buy health insurance.
  • The senator acknowledging, in retrospect, he would rather have cast a ‘Nay’ vote on the legislation that created the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which poured money into the banking system, in 2008. He said, though, the program was meant to ensure the country did not enter an economic depression and said much of the money has been paid back.
  • Hatch talking about the plight of conservatives on Capitol Hill, describing that there has not been a fiscally conservative Congress during his time in Washington. He said it is "always uphill for conservatives," but the Tea Party movement could someday bring fiscal conservatism to the Senate.
  • Hatch saying "violent radical Islam" is the country’s worst enemy. He mentioned the Taliban and al-Qaida as he spoke about American enemies. A person in the audience spoke about Sept. 11 conspiracy theories at one point.