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

Bennett: Republicans need to present more ideas

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/05/08/art.bennett.jpg caption ="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. sharon

    a GOP person with ideas.

    To bad his fellow GOP's do not want to listen.

    They think they know it all already......

    you know.......like how to NOT regulate everything.....so they can make money.................take oil..........now there is a fine mess.........

    thanks ............................not.

    June 30, 2010 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  2. Andacar

    The ironic thing, of course, is that Sen. Bob Bennett was in Washington when the only thing the new ideological purists were in were diapers. But sensible conservatives of the old school like him or the late lamented William F. Buckley Jr. aren't what the rank and file want anymore. They want shouting demagogies and radical purists to purge the party of any deviationism and the remotest hint of compromise with the enemy. The democratic base, too, seems to have abandoned the pragmatists of an earlier generation, and demand extremists regardless of the cost. We're in for a rough time.

    June 30, 2010 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  3. Laguna

    "Endangers" their ability to govern while in office? Clearly the word is nullifies.

    June 30, 2010 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
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