Orrin Hatch points to experience, seniority as reasons to keep him in office

Published: Saturday, June 16 2012 4:00 p.m. MDT

At the recent meeting at the Salt Lake Chamber, many of the questions for Hatch centered on health care. State Sen. Pat Jones, D-Salt Lake, peppered the senator with questions about the Affordable Care Act, most of which on this day he doesn't directly answer.

"It's a disaster," the senator says, blaming the law on Democrats and vowing to repeal it with the help of Mitt Romney.

"Mitt should be very helpful in this area," Hatch tells the business people. "I really believe he's going to make it through. There's a feeling this president (Barack Obama) isn't up to the job."

After mingling with the crowd, the senator climbs into an SUV for the short ride to his office in the Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building. There he meets with Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, Big Game Forever and representatives from the governor's office and the Utah Department of Natural Resources. The subject is wolf management.

"What's so hard about it?" Hatch asks.

"Wolves are very good at doing what they do," replies Ryan Benson of Big Game Forever. "That is surviving."

The talk drifts to turning environmental laws to favor sportsmen and ranchers rather than environmentalists.

"We just don't have the horses there right now," Hatch says. "We're hoping to change that."

The mid-morning meeting ends with Hatch posing for pictures with some of the participants before he heads to the Utah Farm Bureau for lunch. Over sandwiches from Paradise Bakery, the senator chats with farmers and ranchers from around the state.

"If we got you 32 more votes, we wouldn't have to mess around," one rancher says referring to Hatch falling just short of winning the Republican nomination at the state convention.

Says Hatch, "I wish you could have."

Sen. Orrin Hatch

Age: 78

Occupation: U.S. senator since 1977

Politics: Republican; past chairman Senate Judiciary Committee; ranking member Senate Finance Committee

Education: B.S. history, Brigham Young University, history; University of Pittsburgh Law School

Family: wife, Elaine; six children

Residence: Washington, D.C., Salt Lake City

Dan Liljenquist

Age: 37

Occupation: formerly worked at Bain Consulting, Affiliated Computer Services, Focus Services; most recently consulted for Laura and John Arnold Foundation on pension reform

Politics: Republican; Utah state senator, 2009-2011, passed bills on Medicaid and pension reform

Education: B.A. economics, Brigham Young University; University of Chicago Law School

Family: wife, Brooke; six chidlren

Residence: Bountiful

E-mail: romboy@desnews.com

Twitter: dennisromboy

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