Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who could face a primary challenge from the right in 2012, said Wednesday he's confident he will not meet the same fate as fellow Utah Sen. Bob Bennett (R), who lost a bid for his party's nomination in 2010 in the face of Tea Party opposition.
Hatch said on MSNBC Wednesday that he's "a lot tougher" than Bennett and that he isn't worried by the prospect of a primary challenger.
"I think Bob Bennett should have been reelected. He's a fine man," Hatch said. "On the other hand, I'm not Bob. I'm a lot tougher. And I'm actually more conservative, by quite a measure."
It echoes what Hatch is telling supporters back in his home state, where he has been pitching his conservative credentials and reaching out to Tea Party leaders in the state.
"I'm tough as nails, and you don't want to lose me," Hatch told Utah voters at an event last week where he praised the Tea Party as a force that has helped "rev up America."
One potential challenger for Hatch is Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who is expected to make a decision on a Senate run within the next year.