Hatch and Challenger Square Off in Testy Utah Debate

Saturday, 16 Jun 2012 03:52 PM

By Patrick Hobin

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Putting the country into debt leaving future generations to pick up the pieces is nothing short of "fiscal child abuse," Utah's Senate challenger Dan Liljenquist claimed in the race's only debate.

Liljenquist, who is fighting to unseat six-term Sen. Orrin Hatch, claimed his opponent has done little to rein in spending during Froday's debate.

"You’ve voted over and over to raise the debt ceiling,” Liljenquist said. “That is a tax increase, that you’ve deferred on a whole generation of Americans."

But Hatch gave as good as he got. "let me get this straight. Apparently I’m responsible for everything that’s wrong in the federal government. That’s total B.S. and everybody knows it.

“Everybody who knows me knows that I’m conservative, that I fight for conservative principles. I fight to keep spending under control. I fight to make bills work.”

The race between Liljenquist, 37, and Hatch, 78, is the next major fight for the Republican old guard. If re-elected, Hatch will become the most senior Republican in the chamber.

Already it has pitted former presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney against each other. Santorum gave his backing to the challenger on Friday, while Romney is backing Hatch.

The debate, aired on KSL Radio in Utah but not televised, was the only one before the June 26 primary. The primary is the first for Hatch since he was first elected in 1976. Liljenquist, a former state senator from avis County,  held Hatch just under the 60 percent vote among convention delegates needed to win the nomination.

Hatch emphasized his experience in his opening statement and throughout the debate. If the GOP wins Senate control, he said, he would become chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

“Literally 60 percent of the budget comes through that committee, and it’s a very, very important thing. And it takes a long time to even get on the committee, let alone become chairman. So that’s why I’m running,” he said.

But Liljenquist was not impressed by the possibility of Hatch being Finance Committee chairman.

“I am running, senator, because you could be chair of the Senate Finance Committee, not in spite of it,” he said.

“In the 18 years on that Senate Finance Committee, you have voted yourself to expand entitlements by trillions of dollars we couldn’t spend. Look, we have got to have new leaders in Washington who are actually going to have to live through the next 40 years of this country, who will do more than just talk about reforming.”

Liljenquist said, “Sen. Hatch has held the line on overall tax raises. What he has not held the line is the worst kind of taxation, where you spend a future generation’s worth of wealth and you foist it on a whole bunch of Americans who didn’t have the chance to vote for you, with interest.”

“That is fiscal child abuse."

"When asked about partisanship in Washington, the challenger said, “I will never go on television and point fingers at the other side, when my own record demonstrates that I acted the same way they did.

"I will not be a hypocrite. I don’t think any legislation gets passed by bashing people over the head on television. And you know what, I’m gonna work with the other side. I think there are patriots on both sides of the aisle who can do a little bit of math, who are interested in seeing reforms done and I found them here in this state. But you don’t do that by blaming Democrats for every issue.”

Hatch replied, “I have a reputation for being able to bring both sides together. I’ve had a number of Democrat colleagues comes up to me and say, ‘You just simply have to win, you’re one of the few people who can bring us all together and get things going again.’"

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