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Hatch, Liljenquist and Herrod Square off in U.S. Senate Debate

Photo Credit: Terry Gildea.
State Representative Chris Herrod, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch and former State Senator Dan Liljenquist debate at Juan Diego High School in Draper.

By Terry Gildea

Draper, UT – Utah Senator Orrin Hatch faced off against two of his Republican rivals in a debate last night. Former State Senator Dan Liljenquist and State Representative Chris Herrod tried to convince GOP supporters that it's time for the state's senior senator to step aside.

On a stage at Juan Diego High School in Draper all three men marketed their conservative credentials to the Republican faithful. Entitlement spending and state's rights were issues that dominated the ninety minute debate, but Dan Liljenquist wasted little time before he attacking Orrin Hatch for not being conservative enough during his 36 years in the U-S Senate.

"You voted and championed Medicare Part D, which added 16 trillion dollars of debt to this country. Now all of our debt from George Washington until now is 15.3 trillion. It is not lost on me that I'm going to have to pay for that as are a whole bunch of people in this room. You can't hold up the balanced budget in one hand and pass legislation that makes it impossible to balance the budget in the other," said Dan Liljenquist.

Hatch defended his support of Medicare as a program that provides relief to seniors. Later in the debate, Liljenquist was asked why he missed 25 percent of votes while serving in the Utah Senate. He justified missing some votes in order to spend time crafting legislation, but Hatch didn't buy Liljenquist's explanation.

"I can walk and chew gum at the same time. I have a 97 percent voting record over 36 years and that's a high voting record. And I can tell you many of those votes are made right in the middle of very complex bills that we're working on that affect everybody in America and I make those votes," said Sen. Orrin Hatch.

Hatch touted his experience and the possibility he could become Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee as valuable to Utah. Liljenquist tried to convince the audience he could help Utah even as a freshman in the Senate. Representative Chris Herrod spent hardly any time attacking the candidates. Instead he laid out his plan to push for a more limited federal government.

"Push those powers that the U.S. Senate has - push them back to the states. The problem is that since the 17th amendment, the power has shifted to Washington. My job is to go back and clot that and bring it back to the states. I've done that," said State Representative Chris Herrod.

Utah Republicans will hold their state convention on April 21st. There they will decide who will represent the GOP in this Senate race.

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