Hatch drops out of race, throws support to Bush

Kristin Gustafson

DES MOINES, Iowa — After mustering only 1 percent of the Republican vote in Monday’s Iowa caucuses, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, bowed out of the White House race.
After announcing his decision Wednesday, Hatch threw the political weight he garnered in Iowa to the Republican front-runner, Texas Gov. George W. Bush.
Hatch said that of the five remaining Republican contenders, Bush is “the one who can unite the party and bring back the White House to us.”
During the past several weeks, Hatch gained respect for Bush and decided he was the best alternative because of his temperament, ideas, leadership and ability to reach across party lines, said Heather Barney, Hatch’s Utah press secretary.
In endorsing Bush, Hatch bypassed a fellow senator, John McCain, R-Ariz., the national second-place contender. Hatch vocally opposed McCain’s Senate campaign-finance reform efforts and specifically said McCain’s proposed contribution limits would hurt the Republican Party.
The Washington insider also criticized the three other Republican contenders.
“All these other (GOP candidates) are making grandiose promises, but three of them have never been elected to anything,” Hatch said last week, referring to his fellow conservatives: billionaire Steve Forbes, former U.N. Ambassador Alan Keyes and conservative activist Gary Bauer.
Throughout his campaign, the 65-year-old Hatch emphasized his 23 years of Senate experience and his position as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, calling himself a “common-sense conservative.”
During the debates Hatch clearly knew more than other candidates but didn’t have striking policy proposals, said Bill Flanigan, a University political science professor.
“I think he was a long shot from the start,” Flanigan said. “I think he got involved to the extent that he did, just to see if he lucked out.”
Hatch’s low-budget, “whistle-stop” campaign hurt his visibility and made it difficult to reach voters.
“In this day and age you have to have a lot of money to get your message out,” Barney said.
But Hatch took credit for forcing some issues to the table. He stressed the importance of Supreme Court appointments and critiqued the “corruption that has gone on under the Clinton-Gore administration,” Barney said.
Despite his appeal to remaining Republicans to run fair and positive campaigns, Hatch’s only Iowa television advertising consisted of a half-hour infomercial in which he critiqued what he described as the Clinton administration’s broken promises, questionable fund raising and botched investigations.
Hatch said he hoped his message would resonate with voters who are ready for truth and moral leadership.
“It brings issues to the table that need to be addressed, and we as Republicans need to … understand the severity of what has been going on in that administration,” said Hatch spokeswoman Margarita Tapia. “I wouldn’t consider it negative. I would consider it eye-opening.”

Kristin Gustafson covers University administration and welcomes comments at [email protected] She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3211.