June 30th, 2010
02:45 PM ET
12 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. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    As a democrat I've been saying the same thing simply because I am an open-minded free thinking person and will embrace good ideas and solutions regardless of who the person represents. Republicans have yet to help the American people and waste valuable time and resources fighting to bring down our President.

    June 30, 2010 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  2. Steve Fielder

    I agree with Mr. Bennet about the Republican Party having a shortage of ideas, plans, and workable solutions for the numerous problems facing this nation which is precisely why I disagree with his assertion that the Republicans are going to retake the house in November. Republicans have proven themselves adept at rabble-rousing and sloganeering, but what real, meaningful accomplishments for the benefit of the American people can they claim credit for? What have they actually done for their fellow Americans during the last two years? They've got a proven track-record of filibusters and obstructionism, but you simply can't base a campaign platform on the word "no" and expect to win an election.

    June 30, 2010 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  3. Steve, New York City

    Senator Bennett seems to make some sensible statements here – it is a great concern that loud-mouths from the Tea Party and other factions continue to tilt the GOP towards an extremist agenda.

    Of course, the Democrats also have their own problems with extremists (Barney Frank might be the poster child for that).

    BOTH parties need more senators like Bayh, Voinovich and Scott Brown – lest they BOTH become so extremist (useless and irrelevant) that they WILL give rise to a stronger 3rd party (which might not be a bad remedy for my beloved USA).

    June 30, 2010 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  4. SMH

    I agree with him, that's why I refuse to vote for a Republican, but on the other hand... If he would have won he wouldn't be saying this, he would be right on board with all of the republicans.... giving us slogans but no ideas.

    June 30, 2010 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  5. all the news that's fit to omit

    I agree with him, though they are correct at attempting to stop this brutally inept administration, they need to be more concrete and LOUD about their OWN IDEAS.

    They don't have the bully pulpit like the Lemorats and this president does, but they need to smartly and firmly state the ideas on the few outlets that allow their "kind".

    Use the new guys like Ryan and those type and stop just sending out Boner and the other retreads, nobody listens to them but Ryan is smart, calm and a rising star.

    They are NOT the party of No, but they need to be the party of know HOW.

    By the way Barry, 70 plus days in and you are FINALLY accepting help on the spill, good job "fearless leader".

    June 30, 2010 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  6. LouAz

    The bankrupt Flat Earth Party is obvious to even their own members.
    You betcha' !

    June 30, 2010 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  7. that1guy

    Remarkably thoughtful comments that the extreme Right will doubtless ignore completely– an echo from the long-gone days when the Republicans were actually a viable and valuable opposition party rather than a motley collection of ideologues, panderers, and con artists.

    June 30, 2010 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  8. Joe in Indy

    Per their own fundraising plan (the one that mysteriously "leaked out" directly into the hands of the media), these people are driven by a well-fed ego and power. Secondarily, it's ideology and nonsense that you can neither measure nor fully define. These are their (Republicans) assessments of their donors, not mine. Consider that as you read on...

    "What do [they] do now?" That's what these people have been asking themselves since Reagan left office. Their answers: 1). let corporations pollute the air until it turns yellow, poison our kids with lead, fleece our savings/investments, and sit on airplanes for 8 hours, with a mere slap on the hand as a "punishment" while ordinary Americans suffer; 2). let any elected official in Washington who has a price either be bought by a lobbyist or labeled a communist/liberal for there is no middle ground with these folks; 3). any manufacturing or service industry that we can "outsource" to China, let it happen so that we keep the barely-educated and low-skilled folks in America who want to work, in the poor house and on welfare...and then complain about people not taking "personal responsibility"; 4). create this "superficial connection" between religion, values, and politics and use it as a measure of whether or not a person is "good enough" to be effective once elected to office; 5). any idea or solution that seems logical, makes sense, and straight-forward, but does not contribute to their financial portfolios should be criticized, ridiculed, and degraded until it dies; and etc.

    Any ideas these people come up with could "rock the boat" of ignorance and shallowness in which most of their supporters sail and cause them to think about something other than "fluff." With a lot of hope and never-ending prayers, you may get something concrete and measurable out of these folks. Yeah, good luck with that! LOL

    June 30, 2010 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  9. David in Houston

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

    In order for one to have "ideas" one must first have the ability to think for ones own self...a trait that proves difficult when you have been bought & paid for by corporate lobbyists.

    June 30, 2010 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  10. Alex in Wisconsin

    It is amazing how being betrayed by your own base can make even the most right wing politicians talk alittle sense.

    June 30, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  11. SD Kevin

    No political party – Democrat, Independent, Republican, or Green – or aspiring party – Tea Party – have any good ideas at the moment or if they are they aren't advancing them. Id didn't support Obama as a candidate, but I thought he at least had some good ideas and the result of his presidency – so far – is pretty much a flop. So, if outgoing Senator Bennett thinks the Republicans lack good ideas, they're in very good company.

    June 30, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  12. Jon

    Wish he had done it before he'd gone the lame duck route, but still nice to hear the truth from someone on the other side.

    June 30, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  13. Jim M

    He's right. You can't just say no to everything. You need to provide solutions...and not just the ones that go us into the messes we are in.

    June 30, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  14. Chino

    Thats why you're leaving old timer. You Believe conservatives have no ideas. Give Ryan and Cantor and a list of other young guns if you want to know whats going on in your party. Heck, I even have ideas. One thing you guys really need to work on is countering the liberal media (PR for Dem party) via some sort of marketing campaign. Obama smoked you guys on this a couple of years ago and I don't see anything new in that regards. You are constantly being defined by your opponent (liberal education system and media). Do something about it or you will lose again. Oh that's right you already lost- good bye!

    June 30, 2010 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  15. Dave

    Uh-oh... a Republican telling the truth. Their base isn't going to like that... they only like hearing stories about magical people who live in the sky, invisible ghost-hands that control the market, and how conservative ideology is the way to go (even though that's hard to prove since the American South has been electing nothing but conservatives for decades and lags behind the rest of the country in every way).

    Watch for the screams of "RINO!" to start any second now...

    June 30, 2010 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  16. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Republicans need to present more ideas


    MORE ideas??? They've only had ONE idea: sink the President even if it takes the country down.

    THAT'S IT!!! They are inacapable of presenting MORE ideas. People who are willingly brain-dead, usually are.

    June 30, 2010 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  17. David, CA

    "Republican think tank" isn't that an oxymoron? Kind of like "Republican Party" or "Religious Tolerance"

    June 30, 2010 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  18. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Wow at least he's honest. Stating the obvious, especially since all the Republicans seem to care about is keeping everything the same, except for eliminating the few things that help Americans such as Medicare, Social Security and Public Education.

    June 30, 2010 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  19. jim

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

    sooooooo very very VERY true. it's time the republicans began being part of the solution.

    June 30, 2010 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  20. Brian - Seattle

    Sad he had to lose re-election to speak the truth. I wish more people realized there is a difference between elections and government.

    June 30, 2010 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  21. Last Honest Man

    He wouldn't be talking if he won.

    June 30, 2010 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  22. cara

    He's correct. They are the party of slogan's and inaction. They are the party of finger-pointing and Eddie Haskell, tattle tale tactics. But finger pointing is a dangerous business. I grew up with the understanding that when you attempt to put the blame on someone else, be careful that you check those three other fingers pointing back at yourself. Casting blame on others is usually an attempt to divert attention away from oneself.

    We have grown weary of the self-preservation tactics used by so many in the Republican party to retain power at all costs while destroying the faith and confidence that the American people have in their system of governance. When the story of the United States is written, the chapters on its internal destruction will focus on the era of conservative cannibalism and how in a continual attempt to purify itself to unqualified perfection it eroded any sense of connection to those they were supposed to represent, while simultaneously growing fat in a new corporate feudalistic society that they dressed up with ideas of patriotism and honor.

    The Republican party has become a laughing stock - they are the party of the Emperor's New Clothes - and I guess I'd be doing a good bit of finger pointing too, if that was my lot in life. But how about put on some clothes and get to work.

    June 30, 2010 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  23. Carmelle

    No kidding!! Really???

    They can't because they have not changed, not learned or never take responsibility for their failures. They are TTTG.....

    Too Twisted To Govern

    June 30, 2010 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  24. th

    The Repubs need to get over themselves.

    June 30, 2010 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  25. Moderate

    Wish you all had the same idea.

    Unfortunatly the only idea they have is a tea party

    June 30, 2010 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
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