TPMDC's Eric Kleefeld quotes a GOP source in Utah who says the anti-Sen. Bob Bennett forces in the Utah Tea Party movement "don't even realize how little Bennett has actually voted against their positions. 'If you ask a lot of people out here, they say that Bennett voted for TARP, that he voted for the stimulus bills, that he voted for the auto bailout,' said the source. 'The simple fact is he voted for TARP 1, he didn't vote for TARP 2, he hasn't voted for anything else. But a lot of people either choose not to accept that, or they don't understand that he hasn't voted for those things.'" Reports Kleefeld:
But it's not simply the case that the Tea Parties are taking over the party against Bennett -- he likely would have been in trouble even if they hadn't swarmed the caucuses, the source said: "It might not be quite as intense, quite as bad, but it still would have been there." For example, the source noted that there had been complaints in past years about Bennett taking a moderate stance on immigration reform, and about having broken his term-limit pledge when he was re-elected back in 2004.
One conservative group that has aggressively targeted Bennett for defeat is the Club For Growth. "Ever since he went back on his pledge to only serve two terms, he's kind of become a beltway first, big government Republican," said Club spokesman Mike Connolly, in an interview with TPM.
"He supported the TARP Wall Street bailout in 2008, he has supported earmarks on the Appropriations Committee," said Connolly. He supported the Bridge To Nowhere earmarks in Alaska, even after the scandal broke in Alaska about it. And we had a lot of concerns bout his health bill, the Healthy Americans Act, that raises taxes and spending, and imposes an unconstitutional individual mandate, and requires Americans to pay their health insurance premiums to the IRS."
But didn't Bennett ultimately vote against the new health care law, we asked? "His bill, the Wyden-Bennett bill, is a health care takeover," Connolly responded. "Just because he opposed ObamaCare doesn't mean he doesn't favor a vast expansions of federal government control of the health care system. It's right there in his bill."