Washington (CNN) – Utah Republican Sen. Robert Bennett got a standing ovation from his GOP colleagues in a closed lunch at the Capitol Tuesday, but it was probably little consolation for the 18-year Senate veteran after he failed to be re-nominated by his party over the weekend.
"It's like going to your own funeral but still being alive," Bennett said about this return to the Senate. "People say nice things now that it doesn't matter."
Bennett said he won't rush a decision on what he might do next politically.
"We've made the decision not to make any decisions about what I do for now until I have a little time to think about it," he said.
He made clear he doesn't regret any of his Senate votes that angered the right wing of his party.
"On the major votes that I cast that got me in trouble with the people in Utah, I do not regret any on them," he said. "I think they were the right votes."
In the Capitol, some senators fretted about anti-incumbent fever spreading across the country.
"Whether Utah ends up being a trend is unclear," said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said he "felt bad" for Bennett who "deserved to be re-elected." However, Hatch said he realizes that many people in Utah are "mad as hell" and "think the country's going down the drain."
Speaking of the trillions in long-term debt his grandchildren and great-grandchildren face, the typically reserved Hatch blurted out, "I don't want them to inherit this kind of crap."