Comments about ‘In our opinion: Editorial: Room for debate in race between Sen. Orrin Hatch and former state senator Dan Liljenquist’

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Published: Sunday, May 6 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Salt Lake City, UT

Good editorial. And it should be a SERIES of debates, with different formats, not just a single debate. This would give voters a much better opportunity to compare and contrast the two candidates in this important race. One debate isn't nearly enough, but if that's all we get, it needs to be longer than just an hour.

The debates should start in May, and not wait for June. Vote-by-mail opens in early June, and the debates should be held before then in order to be fair to the voters and the candidates.

Salt Lake City, UT

A very peculiar selection of photographs to run with this editorial.

Clearfield, UT

The chance of Liljenquist winning is about the same as the Jazz advancing in the playoffs. Not going to happen. Voters need a reason to vote against an incumbent. The fact that Hacth has been there to long may be a valid arguement. That alone is not enough to convince me to vote for Liljenquist.

Santa Clara, UT

We have had 36 years to compare candidates. I don't need a debate to vote for retiring Hatch.

West Jordan, UT

Add another 30 to 60 minutes to avoid sound bite type answers. They both also have voting records. Questions should abound regarding that and DN should allow them time to defend themselves. " New Blood" isn't always the answer but neither is the Seniority argument. We have access to who they are by their voting record. Use it to determine who best serves your ideas and opinions.


A public debate is just one way that voters can use to determine where the candidates stand. Another way is the printed word. With some many groups both pro and con presenting the candidate's views, it is important to find their official website so you can get the stand as they present it. Otherwise you may end up with someone else's version of what they said.

Google "dan for utah" to arrive at the offical Liljenquist website.

Google "orrin hatch experienced leadership for utah" and select the same title to arrive at the official website for Hatch.

Issues are at the top of the page for both.

Debates can be rigged to favor one over the other. This can be done by the selection of questions to be asked or simply by the wording of the question, which was a major problem with the Republican Presidential debates in my opinion.

On the other hand, the omission of certain current issues or too short of an explanation on a website also gives me concern. That is true for BOTH of these websites. Both need to do some updates in order to be more clear for the voters.

Saint George, UT

"And frankly we know of no better forum for allowing voters to compare candidates side-by-side, to clarify differences, to evaluate command of issues and to contrast their ability to persuade".

My greatest concern as a voter is their understanding of and application of true constitutional principles to the issues. Their first oath of office is to preserve, protect and defend the constitution. The problem we have in debates is that the moderators themselves have very little clue about the original intent of the constitution and how to ask questions that help the voter know where the candidates stand on the constitution vs the issues and what they will do to preserve, protect and defend the constitution. But then again, after serving for over 8 years as a delegate, I have found that most delegates this year and most voters in general no longer understand the constitution and those that trully do and fight for it are now labeled as right wing extreemest. Let's have them debate on their understanding of the constitution and its application in today's world.

La Verkin, UT

I know that my comment may sound self-serving to an extent, but I want to congratulate the Deseret News and KSL for their considered opinion on this issue. If the voters are to make an informed decision they need to actually hear from the candidates in a debate style format. I hope that they will have the integrity to apply those same standards to the general election and allow candidates such as myself the same opportunity to stand for evaluation by the voters, even though we don't have the massive amounts of money to spend on advertising that the major party candidates and the special interests that support them have. Two years ago, the Constitution Party candidate was not invited, even though he was gaining a significant voter interest in Utah. Many people are fed up with both major parties, their bickering and failure to address the issues. The parties (not necessarily individual politicians) seem to be choosing instead to try to character assassinate their opponents instead of offering real solutions. If only the elite are invited, we have no right to complain if they act elitist when they are elected. Here's to the common man.

Salt Lake City, UT

I could not agree more for I, too, am "hopeful that the many Utahns who will participate in the June 26 primaries enjoy the benefit of hearing and seeing these candidates debate." Yes!

While I know some Utahns have already made up their minds for Hatch (like NeilT) or for Liljenquist (like tenx), I believe it is important for all of us to hear them both, side by side on as many issues as possible and as many times as possible. I therefore agree with the PeanutGallery…there should be a SERIES of debates and these debates should start in May, not June. To repeat, this will provide voters with all the information they need when early voting starts in June.

What your opinion writers said is so true--"We believe the important electoral values of civility, transparency, accountability and participation depend upon it." In fact it goes further than this for I believe the fate of this country depends upon it.

Thank you Deseret News and KSL! Please schedule as many debates as possible...I can hardly wait!

Clearfield, UT

It's the thought pattern like "NeilT's" that has keep someone who has done so little for so long in Washington. I would vote for the Rottweiler down the street before wasting my vote to send Hatch back to Washington.

Salt Lake City, UT

Last Utah General Legislative Session for 2011, I remember seeing bill after bill sponsored by Sen. Dan Liljenquist pass the house.

For example, his 2011 SB 180 Medicaid Reform bill passed both houses with no votes against it from either party and was signed by the Governor.

With at least 7 bills, both the house and senate, both republicans and democrats all voted for the reforms Senator Dan Liljenquist proposed. Some of the bills had been changed several times before they were voted on, but when there was consensus they were voted on and passed. Some have asked why he missed some floor votes last year and I believe this tells you why. All 9 of these bills were signed by the Governor.

We need that in Washington DC. These are the same areas that are bankrupting our nation. Again, we need Dan Liljenquist in Washington DC. Yes, we have a US Senator with 35 years of seniority, but remember that in 2011, Senator Dan Liljenquist was still in his first 4 year term. He did it without seniority. He has been recognized nationally for this, but not so much in his own state.

South Jordan, UT

The plea to the candidates to debate publicly is very welcome.

If I had to project an outcome to this plea, it would be based on the following:

1) Most voters do not take the time or effort to research the candidates. They will make up their minds on how to vote based on the few sound bites provided in advertisements.

2) Hatch has a significant advantage on the amount of money available to provide his sound bites to people.

3) Because of the financial disparity, Liljenquist's only hope of providing his message to voters is to have public debates.

4) Therefore: Hatch has everything to gain by NOT debating, whereas Liljenquist must debate or lose the election.

If I were in Liljenquist's shoes, I would do all I can to debate as often as possible. If I were in Hatch's shoes, I would simply turn down any offers to debate, knowing that the money and name recognition are on my side.

I would love to see multiple debates. Hopefully I am wrong about how Senator Hatch will respond to debate invitations, and we'll have a chance to compare these candidates side-by-side.


Well done, DesNews in offering space and time for a meaningful debate between the two candidates.

I can only add that I agree with the poster that stressed the great importance of fair moderation in debates.

I'm glad that the invitation has been made for the debates and hope that there will be little interruption so we can indeed have a full hour's debate or very close.

Talk Show hosts can be, and usually are, very partisan. If you can find someone with his/her mind well and truly open and with great and long- demonstrated integrity and fairness please use him / her, rather than Doug Wright.

Henry Drummond
San Jose, CA

I think this is a good idea and I also think it is a good idea to publicize the invitation. I've seen candidates duck debates before and then claim they were not invited, or that there were conflicts, or not enough notice had been given. I think giving candidates an opportunity to appear on TV in a forum they do not control is essential. I might suggest KSL do what is has done in the past and allow citizens to submit questions.

Draper, UT

The Deseret News knows that this editorial is a political statement on its face. Anyone with even passing knowledge of the political process knows that the only beneficiary of a debate is the challenger because it raises his/her name profile and credibility. The incumbent gains nothing and voters gain little more. Hatch's record is well known and speaks for itself, and it's Liljenquist's responsibility to introduce himself to voters. The Deseret News certainly is correct in calling for civility in the campaign but "calling out" Hatch to debate is a none-too-tinly vailed endoresement of his challenger.

Paul from Bountiful
Bountiful, UT

Thank you Deseret News and KSL for providing a forum for the voters of Utah to hear from both candidates directly. With absentee/vote by mail and early voting starting in the next few weeks leading up to the June 26th primary, I encourage you to host the debate(s) in May rather than in June. Maybe a series of debates over a few weeks would be more beneficial. I hope that both candidates will accept.

South Jordan, UT


While you could take the stance that this piece -- which calls on Hatch to open himself up for a debate -- is an endorsement of the challenger, I believe that it is less politically motivated than that. Yes, Hatch is politically best off by not giving his challenger any opportunity to get in front of the voters.

However for the sake of the voters and the integrity of the process, an incumbent should be willing to face the voters and convince them yet again as to why he should represent them -- not simply hide behind the money of his campaign and his heightened name recognition.

You say, "Hatch's record is well known and speaks for itself." Let's correct this and state that some very small part of his record has been well publicized, and a very small percentage of voters have paid attention to that publicity. I don't believe that any politician's record is well known by the masses. Open debate is critical to let the challenger bring up little known gaffs in the record, and let the incumbent convince us all why he represents us well.

Salt Lake City, UT

I agree that the choice of moderator (and the moderator's questions) can skew the debate one way or the other. That's one of the reasons why I recommend a SERIES of debates, with different formats and different moderators. For example, at least one of the debates should allow the candidates to question EACH OTHER - with an opportunity for a response, a follow-up question, and another response. There are other good formats as well.

Re: IdahoStranger: The printed word is helpful, but by itself it's not enough to truly determine a candidate's record and views. Printed material can be very one-sided, carefully crafted to say certain things and omit others, with no opportunity for people to challenge it or ask for clarification. That's why debates can be so valuable, because they allow the opportunity to see an issue from both sides. The voters are thus well served, and more likely to end up with something closer to the truth.

Debates also allow the voters to get a better view of how the candidates might handle themselves in difficult situations, something that will occur often for elected leaders.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

Mr. Hatch would never make himself available to debate. He knows that the more people see him as he really is, without his handlers, without being spoon fed every statement, the more people will see that he no longer is the Senator they elected thirty-six years ago.

Public service in America was meant to be a sacrifice for a short period of time. Mr. Hatch has made it his career. He feels entitled to "his seat" in the Senate. That is reason enough to choose someone else.

The debate should be held whether Mr. Hatch attends or whether he chooses to stay away. If he wants to run and hide, the voters can spend an hour listening to Dan Liljenquist. That might be the best thing to do anyway. Mr. Hatch has had thirty-six years to explain his position. Why not give Mr. Liljenquist one hour to explain his position?

one old man
Ogden, UT

May I nominate Bruce Lindsay of KSL or Ken Verdoia from KUED as moderators? Either of them would be excellent and about as non-partisan as anyone I can think of.

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