Richard Piatt ReportingOne of the tallest US Senators in office is from Utah, and is also one of the less publicity-hungry. But Democrat Paul Van Dam, who's running against Senator Robert Bennett, says flying under the publicity radar isn't always a good thing.
Democrat Paul Van Dam is finding it's not easy to challenge someone like Republican incumbent Robert Bennett. It's true Bennett is established, and doesn't go after the sexy, high profile issues. he's also in a powerful position in Washington to get things done for Utah.
Campaign billboards say Senator Bob Bennett is, “Better looking than Abraham Lincoln---just barely.” Part of the inside joke is the fact that Bennett is a Lincoln admirer. Bennett loves history and is proud to be part of a long line of bald, non-lawyers who have occupied his Senate Seat.
Sen. Bob Bennett: "I'm bald, Jake's bald, my father was bald, Albert Thomas was bald, and these are all non-lawyers."
The son of longtime Senator Wallace Bennett, Robert Bennett says he will leave office when he can't be effective. But as far as his challenger, Paul Van Dam is concerned, that point has arrived:
Paul Van Dam, (D) Candidate For U.S. Senate: “When I ask them, tell me something important that Senator Bennett has done, you get no response. And if that’s seniority, I don’t think it counts.”
Van Dam makes this point at candidate forums, one by one. TV ads are too expensive for this underdog. But he takes issue with everything from the budget, health care, and weapons research and testing.
Paul Van Dam, (D) Candidate For U.S. Senate: “What drives me are the issues. What drives me is the direction of the country that needs to be altered.”
But as the Republican incumbent, Senator Bennett has a list of accomplishments he says he's proud of. He is in powerful positions on the Senate appropriations and banking government affairs committees, and chairman of the Joint Economic Committee. He says he avoids splashy issues to take on taxes, health care, and the future of social security.
Sen. Robert Bennett, (R) Utah: “All those things strike me as unfinished business that I’ve been able to get started as chairman of that committee. And I’d like to go back and continue to work on them.”
Bennett is in favor of researching nuclear weapons, but says testing isn't necessary anymore. Everywhere he appears with Van Dam, the two differ on this issue most of all.
You have a chance to hear the candidates make the point on this issue, and more yourself. KSL 5 will have a 'Conversation With the Candidates' for this US Senate Seat, right here starting at 6:30.