June 30th, 2010
02:45 PM ET
4 years ago

Bennett: Republicans need to present more ideas

Bennett has some tough words for members of his own party.
Bennett has some tough words for members of his own party.

(CNN) – Republican Sen. Bob Bennett – the first incumbent senator this cycle to fall victim to a primary challenge – says his party isn't doing a good job of advancing substantive ideas.

"As I look out at the political landscape now, I find plenty of slogans on the Republican side, but not very many ideas," Bennett told The Ripon Society, a Republican think tank in Washington.

"The concern I have is that ideology and a demand for absolute party purity endangers our ability to govern once we get into office," Bennett also said in his speech Wednesday.

Facing significant anger aimed at Washington and at some of his past votes, the three-term senator was eliminated last month from seeking re-election to a fourth term, becoming the first incumbent to fall victim to the growing anti-Washington mood ahead of the 2010 mid-term elections.

Bennett came in third in a second round of balloting at the state party convention behind more conservative candidates. While Bennett had won the support of several conservative organizations and has received negative ratings from liberal groups, some of Bennett's critics focused on his vote for the 2008 financial bailout. He also took fire from some conservatives for working to forge a health care bill with Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden.

"Indeed, if you raise specific ideas and solutions, as I've tried to do on health care with Wyden, you are attacked with the same vigor as we've seen in American politics all the way back to slavery and polygamy; you are attacked as being a wimp, insufficiently pure, and unreliable," he said.

Still, the Utah Republican said the momentum is on his party's side as the midterm election season gears up.

"The pendulum will swing, and we will take control of the House - I think that's going to happen… At which point, it's 'thank you for the slogans' and 'thank you for the election.' But in the immortal words of Robert Redford in the movie The Candidate, 'What do we do now?'"


Filed under: Bob Bennett • Utah
soundoff (153 Responses)
  1. Annie, Atlanta

    Senator Bennett, with all due respect sir, we've seen your ideas, and after what we've just been through with the economic meltdown and now the gulf oil gusher, those ideas don't work. You can't keep cutting taxes on the rich, giving tax breaks to large corporations that ship jobs overseas, and deregulate in the hopes that these greedy SOBs will do the right thing. I'm sorry. Your ideas don't work. And now that the tea baggers have taken over control, my suggestion would be to disband. But that's just me.

    June 30, 2010 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  2. OBS....

    Mr Bennett needs to go. He is long past time to leave ANY job and let a younger person take over. Some old hogs can just never give up standing at the sloop traugh that is politics.

    June 30, 2010 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  3. Ben Ben

    WOW! A Republican with a brain! Too bad there arent many more of him out there.

    June 30, 2010 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  4. Bob of Lompoc

    Hey Bob, welcome to the real world!

    June 30, 2010 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  5. chuck

    So where was this concern about Republicans actually trying to govern when he still had a job?

    June 30, 2010 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    He's 100% correct. Cut the crap with the game-playing, hyper-critical, "say anything," McCarthyistic misinformation campaigns and show us whether you have any ideas that aren't just rehashed already-debunked ideological tripe. Right now, the GOP and conservatives are just proving that they actually don't have any ideas by continuning to act like the only two things they need to do is (a) criticize and stir up anger and resentment for anything and everything Obama or the Dems do and (b) regurgitate the same tired ideological mumbo-jumbo that the people rejected in Nov 2008, but take it to the furthest extreme they possibly can as if that makes it a whole new set of ideas. "We need to return to the 1800's" isn't a new idea...we tried it already...in the 1800's...and then progress came along.

    June 30, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  7. Irma in North Carolina

    You are absolutely right the republicans don't have any ideas on how to fix anything. All they can they can do is bash every thing and put down the president. Thanks to the teabaggers, fox news and Sarah every time they open their mouth is to bash every thing and let all the hate and lies flow out and get the country in an uproar. And they are also very good at saying no.

    June 30, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  8. jeff jackson, alabama

    Where's the mystery here?
    Party purity is partisanship !
    The guy is right whether if you are
    a democrat or republican.
    You have to be loyal to your voters
    not your party.
    You want to see partisanship taken
    to the obsurd ? Just read the hate letters
    on this sight. Democrats have names for
    republicans and vise versa.
    Then you turn around and scold your senators?

    June 30, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  9. L.A.

    He's right. No wonder the Republicans kicked him out of office.

    June 30, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  10. Brian

    Vote them all out.

    June 30, 2010 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  11. Wil in the VA.

    More, hell I will settle for just one instead of saying NO to everything the dems. propose

    June 30, 2010 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  12. 60s survivor

    no kidding!! good point.

    June 30, 2010 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  13. Derek

    Why must a Congressman (or Congresswoman) leave or get voted out of office before they say something that should be completely obvious to anyone paying any type of attention to US Politics?

    What's next? After Obama leaves, he finally states that we are spending way too much?

    June 30, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  14. Laverne

    Mr. Bennett is absolutely right and the American people should not forget this because the republicans plan is to take American back 2 steps at a time when we need to move forward to stay competitive in a global capacity. Change is hard, but it is also necessary!

    June 30, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  15. AR

    he's just cranky because he lost...

    Tea Party all the way! The more you slander us, the more you make YOURSELVES look like extremists!

    June 30, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  16. Dano

    That's exactly what we left-leaning people have been saying for the last year and a half Mr. Bennett. Just offering carchy slogans and saying NO to everything offered up by the Dems is not good policy – it's just childish behavior by people we need to be leaders.

    June 30, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  17. Obama Supporter

    I don't understand... If the democrats like their own ideas then why not pass them. The democrats own the House, Senate, and Executive. They can pass anything they want.

    Hmmmm.... It must be because the democrats don't like their own ideas either. Remember this the next time you see the "party of no" or "obstructionest" used and know that it means that the democrats can't even pass their own agenda because their agenda is so FUBARed.

    June 30, 2010 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  18. JR

    They can't present what they don't have, the GOP is an empty shell and if allowed will return to the same policies that got us here in the first place, because they know nothing else.

    June 30, 2010 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  19. Please

    Smart man, no wonder the right wing nuts threw him out.

    June 30, 2010 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  20. Dale

    Conservative MEANS no change and no progress. Conservative... one who aims to conserve. Conserve what? The status quo. Look it up in Websters. Some people call themselves Conservative without even knowing what it means to call themselves conservative.

    June 30, 2010 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  21. Jon

    I feel strongly that Bennett is right, that the GOP will win the House in November. Then the people will be reminded that the GOP has no ideas, that their policies are failures, and that their "answers" for America's problems are always lower taxes for rich people and war. The GOP is stuck in the past and I hope they stay there.

    June 30, 2010 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  22. James M. Holmes

    Bennett is correct that the GOP offers NOTHING at this point. The Dems may lose a few seats in the House, but it wont be the "takeover" that the GOP is dreaming it will be. The crazies have taken over the looney bin known as the GOP today and Americans know it!

    The GOP crashed this country in a ditch and all they do now is complain about how much the tow truck will cost... they have done nothing but live up to the "Party of NO" monicker and have not offered one reasonable fix to this nations problems. Just more crazy and stupidity.

    June 30, 2010 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  23. Bill

    Conservatives and the Republican party stand against economic reform, healthcare reform, financial regulation, and they continually side with corporate America over the American people and the environment. They're even apologetic to BP while they continue to pollute our shorelines and drag their feet.

    Many wealthy conservatives are focused on protecting their interests and wish to continue funneling wealth to the top. They know their policies are destructive to the lower and middle classes and they simply do not care. Meanwhile, they distribute an unprecedented amount of misinformation about the administration and it's proposed policies to get lower and middle class conservatives to support their schemes. The right-wing propaganda machine is well oiled and it may very well bring this country to it's knees in the coming years.

    June 30, 2010 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  24. Ron

    A Republican senator that can see through the B.S. and realizes that IDEAS are worth more than words and macho speeches?

    No wonder he lost the Republican primary – he's not one of "them" anymore. Within a week I expect a high profile Republican to call him weak and unpatriotic. Or maybe even a terrorist.

    June 30, 2010 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  25. Susan

    Finally! A republican that I agree with! The job of the House and Senate is to work for the people. State your ideas and objectives from both sides of the aisle and figure out a compromise... hopefully they figure it out soon or we will all suffer for their inability to "do their job".

    June 30, 2010 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
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