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. B.H.

    Yes, I agree. They say that pure idealogy in the absence of ideas is one of the more pervasive forms of cretinism. This is the GOP in a nutshell.

    June 30, 2010 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  2. What did they say?

    Hearing Mr. Bennett's comments shows the Right does seem to get "it" and there is substance to what he's got to say, but isn't it a little too late? Why weren't these issues addressed over the 8 year tenure when they had the majority for the most part in Congress, the Senate and the White House?

    June 30, 2010 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    Thank you Sen. Bennett- I've been saying that since January 2009.
    You say slogans- I say slurs, but no substance.
    You can't say other other side isn't doing enough when you're doing nothing.

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

    What exactly has this party brought to the table?? Nothing besides apologizing to big business (BP) and the wealthy. This so called party, of grass roots, doesn't give a damn for middle or lower class families. They only care about not paying taxes, but hey, where is the government when I need something. The republican party is a joke. Anyone who votes for them in November doesn't remember what they did with the surplus they had when dipshit took office (George W.). Well, from what I can tell, they put us in a whole so big the economy calapsed and they have the balls to blame everyone else besides themselves. From what I recall, this is the party that deregulated every industry (financial, natural resources) but they blame the unemployed, who by the way did pay taxes for the damn benefits this party feels they are mooching. Again, this is the party of NO and they by far are the party of nothing more than morons!!

    June 30, 2010 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  5. mikey

    I think he's spot on. It's not enough to just complain about the government take over, you need to specifically atriculate alternatives, Republicans need to present their case and not just yell at democrats. Neither side is truthful, and are beholden to special interests. Republicans to business (which by the way employs people) democrats to unions (which is destroying the businesses that employ people).

    June 30, 2010 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  6. Jeff

    good for him.....the Republicans have become the party of Limbaugh, Beck, O-Reilly, and Palin and the party of NO...what is wrong with working with the other side and compromise?

    June 30, 2010 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  7. Gene from Georgia

    What do we do now? Hopefully, you will deal with a Democratic Party that is now learning that bipartisanship is for sissys and obstructionism, extremism and party loyalty trumps service to the country. Payback will be a you-know-what.

    June 30, 2010 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  8. CR

    There's no substance at all from the Republican Party. Plenty of hate and selfishness, but nothing of value to America. Done with it.

    June 30, 2010 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  9. NY-Independent

    Republicans: Hear, hear! You need to think beyond knee-jerk Democrat bashing and act like statesmen and representatives of the people. Come up with some actual ideas. The Left and Center have legitimate viewpoints, and we need opinions from all sides for a sensible discussion. That is the crucible where ideas are merged and forged for the good of America. We need ideas from the conservative side that make sense. "Duh duh duh I hate liberals" is not helpful. Think of America instead of yourselves. This is not a football game. All this applies to the Left as well.

    June 30, 2010 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  10. D.

    Utah will be sorry forever for bring this leader home. WV would not had allowed Sarah and her groupies to do that to Senator Byrd home.

    June 30, 2010 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  11. key

    why didn't someone say this before this out going Senator. The GOP what a bunch of disgruntled group of people what a disgrace.

    June 30, 2010 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  12. Rob

    What? A logical, forward thinking Republican?

    June 30, 2010 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  13. Mike

    Wow!! Finally someone with sense realizing that just Saying No to everything is NOT Leadership!!!!!!! and all Talk with no Solutions is not a way to Govern either!!!!!!!

    June 30, 2010 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  14. sonny chapman

    Tax cuts that favor the wealthy who inherited their money, deregulation of all business & industry, allowing them to decide for themselves what is safe & fair, and bomb first act questions later; what other ideas do Repubs. need?

    June 30, 2010 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  15. Tee

    Mr. Bennett it was you that got voted out, you had a chance to move forward but you didn't therefore you have been replaced. That's what happens! Now enjoy your holiday

    June 30, 2010 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  16. Bobby in Atlanta

    Isn't it funny that it's only now that he wants to stand up and be objective about his party of no ideas? Perhaps if he had been more out spoken and more of a leader from the beginning of his career, he'd still have a job in the senate. But instead he sat back over the years and let the extreme fringe wing of his party take control. Good riddance.

    June 30, 2010 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    When are you going to get to the root of the matter and go after the illegal Obama. He is corrupt and everyone who is worth a damn out here in America knows it. Only his supporters are still yapping their lips without thinking. Of course most of them have nothing to think with. After 50 years of being a Democrat. I now hate the word, party and the people running it. They are going to be the ruination of America. Don't say later you were not warned. Please don't call me racial for I am far from it. Color and race has nothing to do with my comments. This man is a cancer for a Democratic nation. Mark my words coming soon you will see if you can't now that you put your money on the wrong Demon.

    June 30, 2010 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  18. JOhn

    Yeah a Reouclican trying to be honest these days won't last very long. The right has nothing to offer, no ideas, a disasterous failed idiology that the entire planet just saw collpase before our eyes. They want to run a government that they do not believe in at all so they can accomplish nothing at all. The only new thing you can get from voteing republican is a DRAFT. There is no way we can sustain another right regiem without starting a draft. It cannot be prevented. So vote Republican and then you can tell your kids you are sorry when you visit their graves.

    June 30, 2010 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  19. THE OBAMA TRUTH

    When are you going to get to the root of the matter and go after the illegal Obama. He is corrupt and everyone who is worth a damn out here in America knows it. Only his supporters are still yapping their lips without thinking. Of course most of them have nothing to think with. After 50 years of being a Democrat. I now hate the word, party and the people running it. They are going to be the ruination of America. Don't say later you were not warned. Please don't call me racial for I am far from it. Color and race has nothing to do with my comments. This man is a cancer for a Democratic nation. Mark my words coming soon you will see if you can't now that you put your money on the wrong Demon.

    June 30, 2010 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  20. Joe

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

    Uhm, that's because they have no ideas.

    June 30, 2010 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  21. Cliff Vegas

    Gasp! An honest politician?

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

    Exactly, what will you do IF you get in (Party of No)? I hope and doubt that you will given that you have been completely devoid of any constructive ideas and I am hoping that the voting public can see through your cynical vitriol.

    June 30, 2010 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  23. Steve of TX

    Yep, that's the pugs for you. They never want to do much, and when they finally do it's "Too Little, Too Late". It's just like republican Herbert Hoover, who did "Too Little, Too Late", and led us into the great depression. It could have been avoided if he had been brave enough to take some definitive action. If the pugs had their way at the time we were trying to save the country, we would have had another great depression, because they wanted to do "Too Little, Too Late".

    June 30, 2010 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  24. Monbois

    Republicans have dug their heels in and are determined to remain nothing more than obstructionists unless they can again regain control of the House or Senate or, as they would prefer, all of Congress.

    They're useless! But I say, better that they sit on their hands and stick their tongues out than write anything, anyway, since all their legislation ever does is turn the clock back on civil rights and advance the interests of corporations.

    June 30, 2010 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  25. street smart

    The GOP are real big on slogans. They are masters at utilizing the right ones because its these clever slogans that get them elected time and time again. They know what just to say to grab the right percentage of the electorate to win the majority Where they get it wrong is when they govern. Anytime they do they screw the mid class. Theyre geniuses at spin. And the beat goes on

    June 30, 2010 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
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