Washington (CNN) – If an anti-incumbent tide sweeps Sen. Bob Bennett out of Congress later this year, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a fellow Utah Republican, doesn't sound like he'll be too upset.
"The people are restless, they want to see change, and Sen. Bennett, with all due respect, he is going to have to go out and defend his record and explain some things to voters," Chaffetz told CNN Saturday at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Bennett is seeking a fourth term, but is battling a tough anti-incumbent mood and multiple Republican challengers who are upset with his votes for the banking and auto bailouts.
Chaffetz, an up-and-coming voice in the GOP, was first elected to Congress in 2008 despite opposition from Bennett and Sen. Orrin Hatch, both of whom backed incumbent Rep. Chris Cannon in that year's Republican primary. Chaffetz has publicly split with Bennett on a number of issues and even considered challenging the incumbent senator before ruling it out last year.
"More than ever policy and principles are paramount," Chaffetz said, offering praise for the Tea Party movement and its growing influence. "You have to go out and articulate your position and justify how you voted. If you don’t do that you could very well be on your way home with a one-way ticket."
"The people that are in trouble politically are maybe the ones that aren’t as good at listening and paying attention to what's going on at home," he added.
Questioned about the anti-tax Club for Growth, which has vowed to spend money opposing Bennett's re-election bid, Chaffetz answered: "Free speech is free speech."
Chaffetz also defended himself and other Republicans who have sought stimulus money for projects in their home districts after voting against the Recovery Act. Democrats have blasted them as hypocrites.
He said it's legitimate to seek the federal money because it is funded by Utah taxpayers. "What, are we just going to give money, federal funding to just Democrats who voted for these bills?" Chaffetz argued.
"If I could exempt us out of having to pay for [the stimulus], I think it would be a totally different equation," he said. "But the fact of the matter is, my constituents are going to have to pay for it, so there better be some benefit that comes back with it."