|"I despise these people,|
Hatch was referring to Libertarians when he made that comment.
April 12, 2012
Utah Republican Orrin Hatch has spent 36 years in the U.S. Senate, including stints as chairman of the Judiciary and Labor committees. He's in line to become chairman of the Finance Committee if Republicans gain control of the Senate in November.
But back home in Utah, Hatch's quest for a seventh term is not the cakewalk he had in the last five elections, in which he didn't even have to run in primaries.
In fact, the Hatch campaign has spent more than $5.7 million in the past 15 months just to make sure he'll survive the Utah Republican nominating convention on April 21.
"We've got to have new leaders in Washington if we're going to change the direction of this country," says Dan Liljenquist, a former Utah state senator and business consultant, considered the biggest threat to Hatch among nine GOP challengers.
"And the folks who led us into this mess are not the guys to get us out of it," adds Liljenquist, who was just 2 years old when Hatch was first elected to the Senate.
Throw Them All Out
That anti-incumbent sentiment lingers in Utah from the 2010 state Republican convention, when delegates ousted three-term Sen. Robert Bennett.
"The desire to lash out against incumbents — they're all corrupt, they're all stupid, they've all been there too long, throw them all out — that was the overwhelming emotion in 2010," Bennett recalls. "It was on the blogs. It was on Glenn Beck. It was on Rush Limbaugh — everywhere."
Bennett was accused by other Republicans of not being conservative enough because he voted for bank and corporate bailouts, the Toxic Assets Relief Program and other measures opposed by Tea Party groups and others.
The same forces are now targeting Hatch, including FreedomWorks, a superPAC that has spent more than $670,000 attacking Utah's senior senator.
These people are not conservatives. They're not Republicans. They're radical libertarians and I'm doggone offended by it.
- Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah
"He's been there a long time, and with that length in service comes a lengthy record of expanding the scope and size of government," says Russ Walker, the national political director at FreedomWorks.
The group focused on anti-Hatch radio and TV ads and mailers in the months leading up to the state's 2,000 neighborhood caucuses on March 15.
"Utahns thought we sent a conservative to Washington," an announcer in one ad eerily intones. "But Orrin Hatch has risked your children's future by voting to raise our nation's debt limit 16 times. Orrin Hatch gave away your family's money for bailouts for Wall Street bankers."
Actually, FreedomWorks criticizes Hatch for some of the same votes cast by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, a Republican from Texas, the group's chairman.
The Former Boxer Fights Back
"These people are not conservatives. They're not Republicans," Hatch angrily respond"