Scott Howell has eye of the tiger in rematch with Sen. Orrin Hatch and takes aim at senator's age
But Howell said voters viewed the former GOP state senator as an extremist because of his tea party backing. "The saw him as another Mike Lee," he said. Howell said Utahns will see him as a centrist.
A retired IBM executive, Howell said he thrived on finding collaborative solutions to problems in the private sector. He'd bring that same attitude to the Senate where he says partisanship has led to gridlock. He said he learned the art of political compromise while serving three terms in the Utah Legislature.
"Orrin used to have the bone in his body when he worked with Ted Kennedy," Howell said, citing the violence against women and dream acts from which Hatch has now distanced himself. "But, boy, he doesn't have it now."
Though he's a Democrat, Howell wavers on his support for President Barack Obama. He said he hasn't made up his mind about voting for him or presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Howell served on the committee that hired Romney to run the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics.
"I've got to figure this all out," he said, adding he'll wait until after the presidential debates to make up his mind. "I like Mitt a lot and I've been disappointed on some of Obama's things."
Howell said he believes Romney as president would work better with him than with Hatch.
Romney, he said, would want someone from the private sector with Fortune 500 experience over a 36-year incumbent who would try to twist his arm to do things his way.
"Then explain to me why Mitt Romney has endorsed Orrin Hatch," Hansen said. "As soon as Mitt Romney says he wants Scott Howell, then I'll believe that. That is not going to happen."
Howell also intends to use another Liljenquist tactic, challenging Hatch to a debate in each of the state's 29 counties. Every Utahn, he said, should be able to see the two of them side by side. He doesn't think it will happen, however.
"He could not do that. He could not. He wouldn't have the stamina to do that," Howell said. "I'm just being frank with you. He's 78 years old … He's not the same Orrin Hatch I knew 12 years ago."
Hansen said it's too early to make any decisions about the debate schedule. As for Hatch, Hansen said he's as sharp and as energetic as he has every been. No one, he said, questions his physical strength. "He wears out younger guys," Hansen said.
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