May 6th, 2010
05:51 PM ET
10 years ago

Public anger is 'why I am in trouble,' Bennett says

Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah said Thursday that he is in political trouble due to the anger directed at Washington.

Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah said Thursday that he is in political trouble due to the anger directed at Washington.

Washington (CNN) – Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, told CNN Thursday that he is working hard to overcome the anti-Washington, anti-incumbent political mood gripping the nation as the midterm election approaches.

The Republican senator faces his first re-election challenge on Saturday, when he must finish first or second in the balloting at the state GOP convention in order to get a spot on the primary ballot.

"Why is your party so restless? What is in the water?," CNN Chief National Correspondent John King asked Bennett in an interview that will Thursday on CNN's "John King, USA."

"Well there's a great anger about Washington," Bennett said. "A lot of people say, 'We hate what's going on, we hate everybody who's there.' And in Utah, the only 'anybody' they can vote, vote against who happens to be there turns out to be me. I keep telling them: I'm not part of the problem. I'm part of the solution, and we'll see at the convention whether I can make that sale."

"But is that anger out there so palpable that maybe there's nothing you can do?," King asked.

"Well I think there is something I can do," the senator responded. "The anger is palpable. The anger's very strong and that's why I am in trouble. But if I meet with the [convention] delegates, if I spend time with them going through the facts, I find I can turn them around."

Bennett also addressed concerns that he contributed to the increased government spending under former President George W. Bush. In particular, Bennett said that he has a long record of speaking up on the need for entitlement reform.

But he also said he understands the restlessness of the electorate. "The desire for change is a constant in American politics," he said.

"A lot of people campaign on change," he said. Bennett said he has been telling convention delegates that he has "been a voice for change and a one who has produced change."

"They say, 'Oh yeah, we kind of forgot about that.' And I say, 'No, I know how to do it. Keep me there and I can keep doing it.' And that's the message that I think is beginning to resonate better than it did at the beginning."

In the interview, Bennett also touched on immigration reform.

"You can start out with border security but you have to then move very quickly to a guest worker kind of program that makes the border security effective," he said.

Saying he did not believe "anybody should break the law without some kind of penalty," Bennett suggested that prior to adjusting their legal status, "a very stiff fine" should be imposed on people in the country illegally.

At that point, Bennett said, he would be willing to entertain placing undocumented immigrants into a temporary worker program that allowed them to come and go across the country's borders.

But the Republican was quick to add that the nation's citizenship rules need not be adjusted.

"You'll notice in this conversation I have not used the word citizenship," he said. "I don't think any of these things should be part of the path to citizenship. We have rules and laws for that and they exist now. I don't think they should be changed or loosened in any way."

Filed under: 2010 • Bob Bennett • JKUSA • John King USA • Popular Posts • Utah
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Victim of GOP Taliban

    As if a "new" Neo-Confederate will be any different than Bennett? Same s – different face.

    May 6, 2010 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  2. Chessnutz

    Vote Congress out, “you are fired” if they are in. Vote them out this fall no matter what party they belong to, and in the next election and every election going forward until they become the servants of the people once more.
    This November tell Congress "You Are Fired!"

    May 6, 2010 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  3. Jocad

    The reason Bennett's in trouble is because he is a member of the political party that caused this economic meltdown in the first place. The herd has a short memory, it seems to me. The reason the republicans lost so many congressional seats–and the presidency–is because people were fed up with their domestic policies and foreign adventures. Why blame the democrats for attempting to get us out of a mess caused by the other party?
    Whenever I hear a republican criticize the administration's economic policy, the first words that come to my mind are "hypocrisy" and "no credibility."

    May 6, 2010 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  4. JonDie

    From 2001 to 2009, Bob Bennett rubberstamped every Bush-Cheney decision, so he's not exactly that involved in helping his state.

    May 6, 2010 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  5. one voice

    To be truthful to you Mr. Bennett, we are still upset at the FAILED POLICIES of the Bush Administration and should be behind the very Administration that is fighting for the Average Americans(Obama). Your a CLOWN, a Corporate shill, nothing more-nothing less.

    May 6, 2010 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  6. Bob Pacific Grove, Ca

    If you're an incumbent Congressman or Senator from Utah during a time when voters are angry with the status quo, then you are simply an endangered republican........

    May 6, 2010 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  7. Voice of Reason

    It doesnt matter who you are Mr. Bennett, only whether you toe the party line. Otherwise, there's no rhyme or reason to what Utah votors do. Remember this is the (mental) state that elected and re-elected George W Bush by one of the largest margins in the union.

    Most people there dont even care WHO they vote for as long as they have an [R] next to their name. They rubber-stamp the Republican party and then go back into their Glenn-Beck-induced fog of ignorance, apathy, and suspicion.

    May 6, 2010 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  8. In the West

    Bennett's no good, but he's not as bad as the alternative. The politics in Utah are a good example of how the so-called conservatives are trying to tear down everything that makes this country great. One Utah state rep, Carl Wimmer, tried to introduce a bill this year that would make a woman (or girl) eligible for a murder charge (and the death penalty) if she tried to induce a miscarriage. Didn't matter to Wimmer if she was raped, the victim of incest, etc. She could be executed by lethal injection (or firing squad) if found guilty. He was convinced to re-word the bill before the vote.

    The Founders would be appalled.

    May 6, 2010 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  9. Dumbasrocks [R]s

    The Delusion Express is boarding now, with Bob Bennett at the wheel. We'll be traveling at over 150mph around sharp bends high above the river canyon, but pay no attention to that. We'll be parroting [R] party dogma over the intercom, telling lies about our political opponents, and playing patriotic music so you will smile your toothless smiles while not noticing the danger. Please have your life insurance policies paid-up before you board!

    That there are so many rubes left in this country willing to vote yet again for more [R] failure, is a very sad comment on today's America.

    May 6, 2010 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  10. JMikey54

    Yeah Bennett is just saying what he thinks will get him into the primary. I have had enough of these liars, there is no way I will vote for this guy! Bennett is just another slick politician.

    May 6, 2010 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  11. Tom

    Correction, Senator Bennett scored the 64 in 2008, his lifetime is about an 83, not bad.

    May 6, 2010 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  12. JM

    Bob Bennett... the man who swept into office about 20 years ago on get this..... term limits. That was his big issue. He was going to Washington to push term limits, because he felt politicians became entrenched and stopped looking out for the needs of the citizens he represented.

    Near the end of his first term he said "My work is not yet done." Then he pretended he never said anything about term limits and became just another career politician. Of course that was easy to do since he had nothing to come back to as Franklin was run into the ground. But still Bob... get real. The sad part is though that at this point I'd almost rather have him stay. Whoever the people push in will be another nutcase like Jason Chaffetz who gets big support at the convention for saying things like, "put all of the Hispanics in a tent city in the desert."

    I can't cash out my pension and get out of this dump fast enough.

    May 6, 2010 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  13. Lori in St Pete

    Senator Bennett, you have been in Washington for 10+ years. Of course you're part of the problem. However, the dems made headway in '06 & '08 when the majority of Americans expressed their desire to make your ilk an even smaller problem.

    May 6, 2010 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  14. Cynthia

    I beleive it's his buddies over at Fox and the likes of Rush, Palin and the rest who try and stir up anger everytime they open their mouths. Everytime they open their mouths a lie comes out and people in this country are too eager to believe anything they hear. If people would tune these people out, they might shut up. I don't know how President Obama can go out day in and day out and be pleasant, when he is accused of everything under the sun. He is a lot bigger person than any average person would be. This country is facing some of the hardest challenges ever know in our lifetime. Thank God we have a intelligent leader to see us through this. Can you imagine if McCain/Palin had won. It will give you a chill.

    May 6, 2010 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  15. Stephen Kohut

    When one of the most liberal Republicans in the Senate coming from one of the most conservative states in the country runs for reelection in a year when the conservative grassroots are up in arms you can guarantee one thing, he's done. Put a fork in him.

    May 6, 2010 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  16. George of the jungle

    maybe they are just sick of the lies and no action frome the republican party. Ever think of that????

    May 6, 2010 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  17. kris

    If Mr. Bennett thinks that referring to illegal aliens as "chamber maids and lettuce pickers" is in any way accrate perhaps his re-election bid's in trouble for reasons other than his status as an incumbent.

    May 6, 2010 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  18. vishous

    He's in trouble because he isn't doing his job...

    May 6, 2010 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |