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. Marty

    "...ideology and a demand for absolute party purity..." says it all. It has gotten so out of control that if a Republican politician presented an idea hinting of being centrist, he/she would be deemed a traitor. And after pulling such a stunt, their political career would come to a halt in a hurry. So what gets accomplished? NOTHING.

    Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your Republican Party.

    June 30, 2010 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  2. Big_D

    The GOP has proved to be a failure at best. The deregulation of the oil companies and the Gulf being full of oil makes running on 'drill baby drill" look foolish. The idea that more deregulation will help when our economy just failed because of too much deregulation is hard to sell too. The GOP has no new ideas and it’s old ones are bad with a proven track record of being bad.

    June 30, 2010 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  3. MatthewDetroit

    Bennett is too old and part of the problem in Washington just like Byrd, and Kennedy were.

    We need new blood and new ideas.
    We are paying all of these politicians too much money.
    Too much insurance...too many raises.... they have access to too many lobbyist and they make too much money on the side.

    We need to vote them all out and start over....Dems and Repubs...they are all career politicians and crooks.

    June 30, 2010 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  4. Roberta

    No doubt his fellow Republicans will be most happy to push him under the bus for this. Then when he's gone, it's "no" business as usual.

    June 30, 2010 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  5. Gil

    When the repuglican Party's only idea is to say "No" to everything it is time for them to go. The party of No has got to go! It has been taken over by right wing nuts who only say "Yes" to big Oil, Big Business and Wall Street!

    June 30, 2010 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  6. WHAT

    They will always be the party of no ideas

    June 30, 2010 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  7. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    No, what Republicans need to do is lose some ideas.

    The first idea they need to lose is the one that says it's okay to mix religion and politics. It's a highly divisive thing to do, it's offensive to everyone but the Christian religious nuts, and it loses votes.

    The next idea they need to lose is the one that says people are okay just hearing about fiscal responsibility, that they won't notice if you go on wasting money like a Democrat.

    The third idea they need to lose is that insanely expensive foreign wars are good for the country.

    The fourth idea they need to lose is that Americans actually believe the "There's a war going on!" ranting and willing accept the loss of their civil liberties to the PATRIOT Act, FISA, and the rest of the treat-Americans-like-they're-all-terrorists paranoia.

    Frankly, the only thing I like about the Republicans these days is that they may finally be returning to policies of fiscal restraint, but even that I'm not sure if they mean it or are just saying what they think people want to hear.

    June 30, 2010 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  8. walleye

    I knew there had to be at least ONE intelligent RepublKlan in the party of NO.

    June 30, 2010 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  9. Chandler02

    The folks that are attacking the financial bailout are banking on the public's ignorance. If Bush and Congress had not stepped in, if Obama had not done what he did, THE ENTIRE FINANICAL SYSTEM WOULD HAVE COLLAPSED, GLOBALLY. There was a ELECTRONIC run on the banks after Loehman's collapsed...something we had never faced since banking went online. Nearly $5 TRILLION left the financial system within a matter of hours! Hours!

    If other firms of that size would have failed, the NYSE would have collapsed, the dollar would collapse, governments and society around the world would have collapsed. The GOP is now running on the ignorance of the American people, and how they do not understand what they almost endured.

    June 30, 2010 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  10. Rob in MO

    A republican who actually thinks. No wonder he was rejected by his intellectually and morally bankrupt party.

    June 30, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  11. Kevin Cantu

    That's the problem Mr. Bennett your party is just like the Democrats with the liberals. They're to focused on pushing a Conservative agenda and along the way weed out those who are moderate or have a centrists idea. This country is 35% moderate with the other 62% or so either conservative or liberal. That means 62% of this country is ruining our great nation and don't give a damn about who they destroy in the process.

    June 30, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  12. jonbanner

    You said "the first incumbent senator this cycle to fall victim to a primary challenge –". You are incorrect, that would be Arlen Spector. PLEASE, do some research before your knee jerks to write a bias piece against someone.

    June 30, 2010 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  13. Jamie

    The Republicans do not have new ideas-they just have fear mongering and lies. Their mantra is: facts are stupid things that get in the way. Their theme song for the American people: Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies. (Actually they are big and bloody, but they call it something more palatable-something more easy to swallow than the bitter truth.) and of course God told them to do it.

    June 30, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  14. Tj

    Smart man, but he is on the wrong side. REP., will never have any ideas they steal everyone else ideas............all they care about is the weatly and big business.................down with the REP party and the GOBP.....................

    June 30, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  15. Ben

    Republican ideas were exactly what our country needed in 1980. Deregulation, tax cuts, etc.

    But taking those ideas to an extreme has **caused** many of our current problems and they are not solutions for the problems of 2010.

    June 30, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  16. al in memphis

    As I look out at the political landscape now, I find plenty of slogans on the Republican side, but not very many ideas,"
    ___________________________________________________

    We know this and I guess they will figure out that there is another segment of people out there who listen to the issues and are looking for solutions. There are more than just party-line voters, talk show voters, and anti-government voters out there - some voters know that getting some of these problems fixed is a process that start with good ideas.

    June 30, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  17. Tom

    Finally, a republican that gets it.

    June 30, 2010 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  18. JD in Moraga, CA

    Too bad it took getting tossed from the contest for him to figure this out. Everyone else outside of Washington has been saying this for years!

    June 30, 2010 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  19. will

    The Republican speaks the truth! A rarity.

    Seriously, Republicans have not come up with a single idea since Obama has been elected. All they say is "NO" and "Why don't you do this idea that you've already explained why it doesn't work".

    June 30, 2010 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  20. GOP=PIG

    I wouldnt bet on the pendulum swinging to the right this Nov. As of now all signs point to little repub gains as they are hated even more than the democrats. Throw the tea drinkers into the mix and its anybodys race.

    Besides, Barrack Hussein Obama is doing a great job considering the crap hes had to deal with, most of which was created by the repubs and conservaturds.

    Go ahead righties, lie, lie, lie and obstruct all you want, your not fooling anyone but the diehard idiots that are still hanging on the past.
    You make me sad.

    June 30, 2010 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  21. Joe E.

    GOP momentum hit it's high point about a month ago. The pendulum is swinging back as the economy improves and the markets revive. I personally doubt that Mr. Bennett is correct and hope that sense returns to the independent voter that it will take longer for the reforms to bear fruit than the few months that they have been in force.

    Be patient America and allow the system to work.

    June 30, 2010 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  22. Jaimondrow

    He's right if 'governing' means controlling people's lives. Perhaps once you get it office you should chill out and stop trying to micro-manage everything.
    Too many politicians use all their time in office spending our money to fund their perpetual re-election campaigns with pork. Let's shoot for that four-letter-word "LESS"?

    June 30, 2010 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  23. Bill

    Both parties need to learn that you cannot govern effectively from the extremes. Middle groung, willingness to compromise are the ONLY way to effect significant change and keep the constitutional balance that is called for.

    The Democrats of the '60's and '70's tried very hard to govern from the left and it led to the "Reagan Revolution." The Republican Party, influenced by the strident "social conservative" movement illustrated by the religious right, and now the Tax Party movement is trying to win elections by swinging their political stances to the far right. But, Bennett is absolutely correct...if they win, they will have to present ideas on governance that is based on moderation and compromise, or they will lose seats almost as fast they won them.

    June 30, 2010 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  24. rar

    Senator Bennett needed to make these comments long before he lost an election. Republicans such as Senator Tom Coburn and De Mint, and Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann's travel the country reacting in a knee jerk fashion to every politcal hot topic. The right's focus on Idelogical purity and not actually governing is nothing new. The 2004 & 06 election results have merely given the Repulicans a "common enemy". If the Republicans take control of the House, their "leaders"–Joe (You Lie) Wilson, Joe (To BP-I apolgize for your shakedown) Barton, John Boehner ( Refuses to govern with the majority party), and Michelle Bachmann (Congress should investigate memebers of Congress for UnAmerican beliefs) will be chairs of House committees and control the House agenda. We won't have time to ask ourselves what do we do know. They won't give us time to respond before they govern in ways we haven't seen since the McCarthy era.

    June 30, 2010 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  25. Chuck Anaheim, Ca

    Wow a republicant with more than half of a damaged brain cell. Someone please check to see if this guy is a breathing because most of the time if a republicant is breathing, they are lying.

    June 30, 2010 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
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