Hatch: 'I'm no Bob Bennett'

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) stressed Friday he has no intentions of following down the path of his Utah colleague, Sen. Bob Bennett (R).

During an appearance on Bloomberg's "Political Capital With Al Hunt" set to air this weekend, Hatch, who's up for reelection in 2012, talked down the prospect of losing to a conservative primary challenger the way Bennett did earlier this year.

“I like Bob Bennett. I felt like he was a great senator. But I'm no Bob Bennett," Hatch said of his colleague, who lost at a state party convention to Mike Lee, the new GOP candidate for Senate and probable victor in the state's Senate race.

Hatch is one of a crop of veteran GOP senators who are looking to learn lessons from the 2010 primary cycle, which saw incumbent senators such as Bennett and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) lose their primary races against insurgent conservative activists tied to the Tea Party movement.

The veteran senator said he's already begun reaching out to his state's Tea Partiers and stressed his conservatism relative to the forcibly retired Bennett.

"I'm meeting with these folks, the Tea Party people and others, and I'm holding extensive town hall meetings," he said. "I think they know that I'm not Bob Bennett. Bob was a conservative, but I'm more conservative than he is.”

Among the candidates already said to be mulling a primary challenge against Hatch next cycle is the ambitious Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R), who passed on a chance to challenge Bennett this cycle.

Still, Hatch said, while he'd stand tough on issues, his days as a bipartisan negotiator weren't yet over.

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