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Hatch works on name recognition in Iowa

August 2, 1999
Web posted at: 6:25 p.m. EDT (2225 GMT)

AMES, Iowa (AllPolitics, August 2) -- With the important Iowa straw poll fast approaching, some of the lesser known GOP candidates have been out pounding the pavement in Iowa, hoping that their campaigns won't fall victim to the natural selection that has already claimed the Republican presidential aspirations of Rep. John Kasich and Sen. Bob Smith.

One such candidate who has been feverishly working to build name recognition in Iowa is Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah. Hatch, 65, has been out in Iowa shaking hands at the Hickory Park barbecue restaurant in Ames, among other locations. He doesn't need to do this back home in Utah. He won his last Senate race with 69 percent of the vote.

He is a senior senator, chairman of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee and also a successful song writer. So why did Hatch enter the already crowded race for the Republican nomination last month?

"Frankly, when I look at all the rest of the candidates, I don't believe any of them can give George Bush a tussle," Hatch explains.

He's joined Steve Forbes in calling for a debate before the August 14 straw vote.

"I think George Bush ought to have to compete with everybody else and he ought to have to debate with everybody else," Hatch says.

Touring the high-tech Anderson Eickson Dairy in Des Moines, which sells in five Midwestern states, Hatch says his issues are a free market system, less government, and power to the family.

He also talks about his humble beginning, working as a janitor to get through school.

"Ted Kennedy, when he found I worked as a janitor to get through school, he said, 'Orrin, you should have stuck with it,'" Hatch jokes about his unlikely Senate friend.

But Hatch uses his ability to work with Kennedy and other liberals on child care and health issues as a selling point for his campaign.

In addition to working well with the other side of the political aisle, Hatch also deviates from some of his conservative colleagues by opposing a litmus test on abortion for judicial appointees.

"To subscribe to a litmus test that might exclude somebody who's terrific in every way except one way, I don't think that's right," Hatch says.

As he told Iowa dairy workers, he knows he's starting late.

"Somebody said well, senator, you're a day late and a dollar short. I said no, no, I'm two years late and $36 million short," Hatch says.

Opening his state headquarters, Hatch said he wants a million people to give $36 dollars each to match Bush's money. This Washington veteran insists he's an outsider.

"When I make it, I'll be the president who was elected by the people," Hatch counters.

So while Hatch has a mountain to climb in Iowa, at least he knows it.

CNN's Bruce Morton contributed to this report.

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