Sen. Orrin Hatch is going to run on his record; from start to finish on what he has done for Utah, his campaign aides say.
Considering that his most likely Democratic opponent, Brian Moss, is going to attack him on exactly that point his record the race should provide very different views of reality.But what else is new in political races?
Hatch, although leading by 40 points in the polls, isn't taking the race lightly. "I'm going to run hard and long. I'm taking the race very seriously," he said.
The two-term senator was prepared to take it a lot more seriously a year ago. Then it appeared that former Democratic Gov. Scott M. Matheson might challenge him. Early polls showed Matheson leading Hatch, although the race was close.
But Matheson decided last spring not to run. The sigh of relief from the Hatch camp could be heard for miles, although officially Hatch said he didn't care who ran against him.
As Democratic Party leaders in Utah searched for another candidate, Hatch's campaign team kept on working, kept on raising money and planning strategy. (Hatch will raise more than $2 million; Moss hopes to raise $1 million).
Democratic Party Chairman Randy Horiuchi even considered, for a time, running against Hatch himself. Horiuchi fears if Hatch isn't seriously challenged, he could spend his time and money helping other GOP candidates in Utah to the detriment of Democrats. But Horiuchi and several other possible Democratic candidates got out when Moss got in.
According to Bud Scruggs, Hatch's campaign manager, the senator's campaign themes will be how he has helped Utahns. Hatch will point to Utahns' benefits from his stands on broad, national policies, like health care, and on his specific intervention, like helping put together the Geneva Steel buy-out.
"The senator has played a key role in many, many areas. In business, he helped Geneva Steel get back. He helped Kennecott Copper get back. He saved the Jeremy Ranch Showdown (a PGA golf tournament)," said Scruggs.
No matter how well he campaigns, however, there are some Utahns who just won't vote for Hatch. But that's all right by Scruggs, as long as they aren't too numerous. "About 22 percent in our polling will vote for just about anyone but (Hatch). We believe Moss can expand that core a little more. We see Moss, today, getting about 32-35 percent of the vote, and that would be a fine win for the senator," Scruggs said.
Even though Hatch doesn't really need early TV advertising, Scruggs said, "We'll soon decide if we'll have early TV ads. I'd like to do them. They set the tone of the campaign, get people thinking a little bit."
He quickly points out, however, that Hatch doesn't need the same kind of ads he ran early in the 1982 Wilson race. Then, Hatch the man was not well known by Utahns, and many had an ambivalent or unpleasant opinion of him. Hatch's campaign staff ran the so-called "feed the dog popcorn" spots which showed the senator at home, playing with his kids and feeding his dog popcorn that were aimed at making Utahns feel better about Hatch. Scruggs said they worked.
"We don't need them this year because people do feel good about the senator. He is in the best political shape of his life." Scruggs has conducted a number of polls that ask a variety of questions about the senator. All the answers are satisfactory, he said.
This year's early TV Hatch ads would, instead, hit upon broad themes. "Messages like these tend to get lost if you run them later in the campaign when there is a lot of rhetoric going on," Scruggs said.