Editorial: Room for debate in race between Sen. Orrin Hatch and former state senator Dan Liljenquist

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  • PeanutGallery Salt Lake City, UT
    May 8, 2012 1:34 p.m.

    Re: Cataldo: Your question is fair, but premature. No, at this point Democrat Scott Howell should not participate in the senate debates. The reason? The current race is only to determine the REPUBLICAN nominee - either Hatch or Liljenquist.

    This will be decided by Utah's Republican voters in the June 26 primary, and the winner will face Scott Howell in November's general election. After June there should be opportunities for Howell to debate the Republican nominee.

  • Cataldo Farmington, UT
    May 8, 2012 11:31 a.m.

    Would there be any harm of inviting Scott Howell, the democratic nominee? It seems the fair and balanced approach. Not doing so smacks of political partisanship.

  • swede1952 Smithfield, UT
    May 7, 2012 10:12 p.m.

    Yes,the more debates the better! Dan Liljenquist "shines" when he speaks in a public forum. I heard Dan speak at the state Republican convention. His remarks "energized" many state delegates. There was a loud, vocal approval by Dan's supporters at the conclusion of his remarks. I have NOT heard such an empowering speech since Ronald Reagan was president. Dan is eloquent when he speaks. He encourages me to believe a better tomorrow is in the offing, if ONLY Utahns have the moral courage to listen and support Dan Liljenquist in his Senatorial campaign. As President Reagan said in 1984, "it's morning in America". I hope the majority of the Utah electorate can embrace the vision of a man who stands for what he believes and is an example of statesmanship in action. GO DAN!

  • homers Provo, UT
    May 7, 2012 8:52 p.m.

    I don't need a debate to tell me that seniority trumps debate performance. They can debate if they want to but the Senate is not a body of great debates any more - it is all procedure and and committee and the seniority to get your agenda through. Liljenquist would go to the back of the line and get the chance to send out press releases and squeal but no real opportunity to do anything of substance until the middle of his second term. Hatch can do it now. I am going to vote Hatch and think about "It's Time" next time.

  • PeanutGallery Salt Lake City, UT
    May 7, 2012 1:53 p.m.

    I agree with the comments that if Sen. Hatch is not willing to debate, then the sponsors should proceed anyway and give the time to Liljenquist. Utah voters deserve to see a side-by-side comparison between these two candidates, and a refusal to participate only cheats the voters.

    Further, if Sen. Hatch is unwilling and makes excuses ("Sorry, I don't have time to debate - I have to be an advisor to Mitt"), that's a very good reason to vote against him.

  • Gordon Jones Draper, Utah
    May 7, 2012 12:55 p.m.

    I have to disagree with my fellow Draperite DonO. Most Utahns' impression of Orrin Hatch stems from his first couple of terms, when he was a conservative activist. Since then he has moved consistently to the left, and he is no longer the man we first elected. In those days he was a pro-life leader; these days he supports taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research. In those days he championed a balanced budget; now he crafts Medicaid expansion (CHIP) and Medicare expansion (Part D). In those days he fought for states' rights; these days it's the Department of Education and NCLB.

    The best debate would be between Hatch of 1976 and Hatch of 2010. But come to think of it, Dan Liljenquist is just about where Orrin was 36 years ago. It's a debate worth having.


  • swede1952 Smithfield, UT
    May 7, 2012 12:31 p.m.

    Yes, by ALL means let's have some debates. 2012 is a crucial election year. I want to hear what each candidate for the Utah Senate seat has to say. I would like Senator Hatch to explain concisely why he deserves my vote for another term in office. Also, I want to allow Dan Liljenquist an opportunity to present his views and allow me to get to know him better. Debates will allow me to compare side by side each candidate and then, make an informed choice.

    I see this as a WIN/WIN for the candidates and the electorate of Utah. I'm looking forward to these debates. Congratulations to the Deseret News and KSL-TV for helping Utahans form an opinion, and then vote in an informed way! Isn't that what democracy is all about!

  • Conservative Voice RIVERTON, UT
    May 7, 2012 9:40 a.m.

    It's very interesting to me that a Senator that wants us to give him years 37-42 in Washington is reluctant to debate. I would very leary about giving him another 6-years if he can't even articluate what he will do with that by laying out a clear vision. I mean he's been on the Finance Committee for 18 years now and with that power has given has Trillions in unfunded liability spending. What has changed and why will he stop spending now that he's in charge?

  • iftheresanythingvirtuous Salt Lake City, UT
    May 6, 2012 11:11 p.m.

    Excellent conversation! Thank you everyone for such thoughtful comments!

    MGB, I agree, "Let's have them debate on their understanding of the constitution and its application in today's world."

    Gildas, I agree, NO Doug Wright.

    Mike Richards, I agree--if Hatch declines, give Liljenquist an hour.

    Henry Drummand, I agree--allow every day Utahns to submit questions.

    DanO, I agree with sjgf, "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." After 36 years, this is the first time average Utahns (not just a few delegates) have had a real (repeat "real") choice. Sponsoring a debate is not about promoting one candidate over the other, it is about allowing voters to have the opportunity to know what their choices are. Anyone who believes differently misses that critical point.

  • JMH Provo, UT
    May 6, 2012 6:57 p.m.

    To Mike Richards. You make a statement that Sen. Hatch needs handlers to spoon feed him statements. That alone tells me that you have never met the man or had a conversation with him. If you had you would know that Orrin is always prone to tell you what he thinks and let the chips fall where they may. He is considered the expert in the Senate on intellectual property and his opinion is sought out by Senators on both sides of the aisle. He was the major force in the Senate in creating the generic drug industry, saving billions of dollars for consumers, with the passage of the Hatch/Waxman amendments to the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act. He has been a champion for those downwinders affected by nuclear testing in Nevada during the 1950's that led to high cancer rates in southern Utah. His legislation got them the consideration needed. Orrin Hatch does not need a handler, he has a wonderful grasp on the issues of the day and can articulate them very well.

  • IdahoStranger NEWDALE, ID
    May 6, 2012 6:10 p.m.

    Let' have BOTH! Televised debates AND the printed word. Isn't this an important enough issue that we should devote some really significant time to it?

    Surely the Deseret News could find some space by withholding some of the many polls.

    Its not like we will get to make this vote again in two years - it will be six years.

    And while we are at it, how about publishing some of their voting records? That is a matter of public record. Let each candidate show us 20, for example, he wants us to see and then let each candidate select 20 of the others guys voting record that he wants thinks should be exposed. That should give us a pretty good sample on both sides.

    But we shouldn't do like some teachers do and that is to allow each to drop their lowest score.
    We have to live with those votes and so should they.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    May 6, 2012 1:40 p.m.

    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.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    May 6, 2012 12:37 p.m.

    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?

  • PeanutGallery Salt Lake City, UT
    May 6, 2012 12:14 p.m.

    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.

  • sjgf South Jordan, UT
    May 6, 2012 12:14 p.m.


    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.

  • Paul from Bountiful Bountiful, UT
    May 6, 2012 11:38 a.m.

    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.

  • DonO Draper, UT
    May 6, 2012 11:05 a.m.

    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.

  • Henry Drummond San Jose, CA
    May 6, 2012 10:51 a.m.

    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.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    May 6, 2012 10:49 a.m.

    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.

  • sjgf South Jordan, UT
    May 6, 2012 10:06 a.m.

    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.

  • Utah_1 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 6, 2012 9:58 a.m.

    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.

  • DavisMan Clearfield, UT
    May 6, 2012 9:53 a.m.

    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.

  • iftheresanythingvirtuous Salt Lake City, UT
    May 6, 2012 9:34 a.m.

    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!

  • ShaunMcC La Verkin, UT
    May 6, 2012 9:29 a.m.

    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.

  • MGB Saint George, UT
    May 6, 2012 8:07 a.m.

    "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.

  • IdahoStranger NEWDALE, ID
    May 6, 2012 7:52 a.m.

    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.

  • Tulip West Jordan, UT
    May 6, 2012 7:40 a.m.

    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.

  • tenx Santa Clara, UT
    May 6, 2012 6:58 a.m.

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

  • NeilT Clearfield, UT
    May 6, 2012 6:55 a.m.

    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.

  • Montie Salt Lake City, UT
    May 6, 2012 2:01 a.m.

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

  • PeanutGallery Salt Lake City, UT
    May 6, 2012 1:41 a.m.

    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.