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Orrin Hatch, up for a 7th Senate term, talks politics with students

March 15th, 2011 Posted in Opinion

Story & Photo by Courtney Rhodes
Utah Public Radio Report by Landon Hemsley

LOGAN—The Q&A ranged from President Obama’s politics to teacher tenure to Middle East conflicts and health care reform when Utah’s senior senator came to Utah State recently as a guest of the USU College Republicans.

Skipping prepared remarks, U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-UT, who is running for reelection, invited students and the public to ask anything they wished.

Hear It Now: Landon Hemsley reports on Hatch’s USU forum on Utah Public Radio.

Although the subject matter was serious, Hatch kept the atmosphere light by adding jokes or funny stories to his answers.

“Many people don’t think senators have a sense of humor,” the six-term senator said, “but that is the only way to make it in Washington, is to have a sense of humor.”

Hatch also advised students on how to make changes in politics and government. “The first thing you need to do is keep up your education, get involved, support people you really believe in, live right and don’t swear,” Hatch said.

Although questions varied widely, one of Hatch’s recurring themes was the importance of state’s rights over federal power. The health care reform act, or “Obamacare,” for example, should never have been adopted, said Hatch, who prefers that individual states be allowed to choose health care systems that fits into each state’s demographic.

“In 2014, if Obama is president then, he will have to go to a single system in order for this health care bill to work, which in essence is socialism,” Hatch said. “He is selling you young people right down the river and everyone is just standing by. That is why I believe the Tea Party movement was so great, because people stopped sitting on the sidelines.”

To further emphasize his point, the senator also commented that the teacher tenure pension program should be made by individual states, because it affects students more than teachers. “Telling everyone what to do from Washington is encroaching on people’s liberty and this country was not founded on that,” he said. “It takes presidential leadership to run a successful country and President Obama is so far left that he won’t take that lead. Almost any other person would be better than the one we have now.”

Hatch also spoke briefly on the unrest in the Middle East, saying that as a country we should make nice with the new rising powers because if Israel comes under attack the United States will have an obligation to support and protect the only stable democracy in that region. This unrest, he warned, will have a great impact on oil prices and, in turn, will cause gas prices to rise. At the moment there is nothing the United States can do to stop it.

“We are in a precarious position,” he said. “President Obama has stopped all offshore oil drilling so we have come to depend more heavily on the oil coming from the Middle East, which does not give the United States much room to bargain on oil prices.”

Not only did Hatch address serious national issues, but he also spoke about upcoming election season and how he is behind U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz in the polls. “Every time I’m up for reelection, the polls always say I’m behind, but somehow I always get reelected. So I intend to win this coming election as well,” he said.

“Every election year the public usually says they want a new fresh person to be elected, but just ask the people on Capt. Sullenberger’s plane,” he said, referring to the U.S. Airways pilot who landed his jet in the Hudson River in 2009 with no casualties. “Experience does make a difference.”


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