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. Nick , California

    Wow.. its takes being eliminated to actually speak the truth!! I'll take it though... as this is the only ray of light I have seen from the right!! Too many slogans on the right.. "socialism" (funny how many people don't know what it means.. but say it anyway)... "communist".. etc. The Repubs will continue to attack with words, but no solutions.... (sorry.. tax cuts and cardboard cut outs of Regan don't count). They will stick to the blame game until elections in a few months. THIS IS ALL A GAME.. don't think for a second that they go to sleep with a tear in their eye fighting hard for the little guy! THIS IS A SPORT FOR THESE PEOPLE!! They will do and say anything to win.. period! Its sad to see how money and power corrupts people!

    June 30, 2010 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  2. M.R. in L.A.

    Such a shame that a Rupublican has to be voted out of office before being able to speak such a simple truth.

    June 30, 2010 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  3. normajean

    "Idiology and absolute party purity," Is that what is keeping the Republicans from becoming an active party and coming to the aid of their country.Well now, just how about that? I had no idea. All I can say is if the pendulum does swing in their direction, I hope it doesn't hit them in the head but instead causes them to become a positive and active part of our government instead of more of the same distructive, arrogant, "Party of NO'.

    June 30, 2010 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  4. Jim

    Yup, more advice from those who can't even hold their own seat. If he had something substantive to say maybe people would be more apt to listen.

    June 30, 2010 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  5. Beverly - NYC

    Why is it politicians find their honesty and candor when they are on their way out? God help us if Republicans get back in power. I've seen enough of the petty obstructionist behavior of Boehner & Cantor et al to last a while.

    June 30, 2010 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  6. Susan in Arkansas

    At last a voice in the wilderness speaking the truth. I would love to hear some constructive ideas from the Republicans. Not just the same old gritching about the current administration's agenda. Until they change, of which I'm not sure they are capable, I don't see the Democrats losing the House or the one on Pennsylvania Avenue.

    June 30, 2010 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  7. AndyF

    I think the 2 party system we have is the underlying problem in this country. You telling me you can distill all our diversity and representation of Americans into 2 parties? We need at least 4 to 6 viable, strong parties, and I would hope anti-trust laws will finally be used to break up the fiscal dualopoly GOP and Dems have on politics. However, the way the GOP is running itself now, and assuming they will have a moment of regained power as long as voter turnout is less than 50%, ir will not last long as Americans remember what the GOP showed itself to be under Bush/Cheney, and now only strengthens itself further into being; a party for the few, protecting the eroding white power base, and of course, putting money and big business (sorry to BP?) ahead of everyday Americans. After that, this country could be reduced to 1 party, but at least Dems allows itself differences within its party, not the facist style the GOP is employing. Don't get me wrong, I feel most Dems stink, but we would be better off with the GOP becoming just some local phenom and disappear from the national level altogether.

    June 30, 2010 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  8. David

    Duh! How about a little less hate and no you can't do that, and a little more inclusiveness and let us figure out a way to do it. We need a third middle of the road party. The zig zag right and left is taking a toll on this country.

    June 30, 2010 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  9. Bob Texas

    This man is exactly right the GOP does nothing to advance the USA. If complaining was a platform they have won.

    June 30, 2010 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  10. scrapster

    You're a Republican. You're not supposed to govern. You're supposed to dismantle government and go home.

    June 30, 2010 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  11. Brandon V. in DFW

    I find it funny that when the Republicans are in the majority they ask for, actually pretty much demand that Democrats compromise and make concessions to their agenda.

    But when they are in the minority, overwhelmingly so, they still demand that Democrats meet their wishes. Congress is about compromising to do what is best for the American people. And the majority party represents the wishes of the majority at that time.

    June 30, 2010 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  12. DanInNooYawk

    The Senator seems to have recognized the basic problem of the Republicans under Bush:
    "ideology and a demand for absolute party purity" was preferred over intelligence, data, competence, respect for law and good governance.
    Pity Bennett is only allowed to speak his mind after getting kicked out.

    June 30, 2010 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  13. MaryAnn

    Too bad Senator Bennett had to lose an election to finally tell the truth about the republican party or for that matter most of the elected officals in Washington. There are litttle if any substantive ideas coming from either party. The American people must stand up and demand more from our elected officals. Truth is just the begining and these slogans without ideas to back them up are killing America, it's people and it's future.

    June 30, 2010 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  14. Georgia Peach

    The best ideas the Republican Senators and House of Rep. can offer is to resign their post to aid in creating a SMALLER government that they continue to advocate and seek jobs in the private sector. :-)

    June 30, 2010 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  15. Dan in Colorado

    As a right leaning person, I am so glad that someone in the GOP raised this issue. I have seen objections to every single effort brought forurth by the administration without a counter point. I would like to know what are the other ideas that the GOP has to make things better? We will find out soon enough

    June 30, 2010 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  16. Shawn

    I would have been nice for him to say this while he was still in office. I guess he didn't have the guts to buck the party's talking points until he was kicked out.

    June 30, 2010 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  17. phoenix86

    Bennett lost because he confuses moderate positions with the current democrat positions; which are so far left that the majority of the country has rejected them.

    If he had stayed true to less government, lower taxes and individual liberties, he would coast to re-election.

    June 30, 2010 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  18. Matt

    Unfortunately most Republicans rarely have any ideas of their own. About all they know how to do is criticize and try to block any ideas that the Democrats come up with.

    June 30, 2010 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  19. P.Arnold

    Couldn't have said it better myself.

    June 30, 2010 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  20. Texan

    Republicans have become a cult rather than a political party. If they do not follow the cult rules, the members are disbarred. It took Bob Bennett to lose his seat to see what his party has become. They have become close minded, self centered party of I. What will I get from it? They do not care about the nation. Most talk about fiscal conservatism, but they do not act. The countries deficit ballooned during Pres. Bush era, but these guys sat on their hinds. Now they are scream about deficit. Many do not even know that a major portion of our busget goes to our armed forces; the same people they pledge support, but want to reduce benefits. I think the country is well served if the Republican party disbands and new political parties emerge, with fresh ideas and new people. We also should impose a two term limit for the Senators and 4 terms for the Reps.

    June 30, 2010 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  21. PalmReader

    But in the immortal words of Robert Redford in the movie The Candidate, 'What do we do now?'"
    ______________________________

    Tell me again, Bennett, why any sane American should even consider casting a vote in favor of a *what do we do now* GOP candidate Seriously.

    June 30, 2010 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  22. James Cunningham

    Listen to this phoney lecture from a RHINO who never met a spending or big government plan that he didn't like! A real "man of principle" as long as it benefited him and one of the reasons that the Republican establishment is so out of touch with us, the rank and file of the party!

    June 30, 2010 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  23. duffey

    The GOP have lost their political equlibrum through political ideology, since the message caters to a base as opposed to the larger groups of independents and conservative deomocrates. This rests squarly on the shoulders of Mitch McConnel, who has lost control and no longer promotes a sensible and balanced agenda.

    June 30, 2010 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  24. Texan

    Republicans have become a cult rather than a political party. If they do not follow the cult rules, the members are disbarred. It took Bob Bennett to lose his seat to see what his party has become. They have become close minded, self centered party of I. What will I get from it? They do not care about the nation. Most talk about fiscal conservatism, but they do not act. The countries deficit ballooned during Pres. Bush era, but these guys sat on their hinds. Now they are screaming about deficit. Many do not even know that a major portion of our budget goes to our armed forces; the same people they pledge support, but want to reduce benefits. I think the country is well served if the Republican party disbands and new political parties emerge, with fresh ideas and new people. We also should impose a two term limit for the Senators and 4 terms for the Reps.

    June 30, 2010 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  25. aaron in minneapolis

    Really? I mean really? He's just not realizing they have no ideas? Good thing he wasn't re-elected, I think he has a teaspoon of der da der in him.

    June 30, 2010 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
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