Though he did not himself attend Weber State University, the U.S. senator for Utah took any opportunity to show off his tie, patterned with the purple WSU ‘W’, to guests filing into his town hall meeting.
“This tie has been on network television many, many times,” said Senator Orrin Hatch, mid-answer to a question, at one point during the meeting. “. . . My Weber State tie, frankly it’s my favorite tie.”
Hatch, who is campaigning for re-election this year, took questions from an audience of students, faculty and community members in the Sky Room of the Shepherd Union Building from 1-3 p.m. on Saturday.
Recurring themes of the meeting were the issues of illegal immigration and the national budget. Hatch was the original author of the DREAM Act, though “it’s a far cry from what they’re trying to put over on us today. . . . The fact is what we’ve got to do is we have to patrol the borders, we have to seal the borders. Once we get that done, then people will be able to get together and solve these problems, and certainly, I hope to be one of those who will help solve that problem. It’s not fair to honest, decent, good-living people from other lands who are in our country and contributing.”
As for the economy, Hatch said economic issues are paramount in the 2012 elections.
“The social issues are not as important in this election as economic issues. They’re always important, I mean, there are moral rules and so forth, but moral rules depend upon your own moral thinking too, and some people think differently than others, and they may be right in their approach towards things. But we all know ‘it’s the economy, stupid,’ to make a long story short, to use Bill Clinton’s slogan.”
Another factor that frequently arose in Hatch’s answers was his support for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Hatch called Romney “brilliant” and said he is the only one of the candidates with diverse enough experience to lead the country out of economic crisis.
“The only guy that really has the experience in the economy and who really can turn this around is Mitt. But get your spirits up, because I’m telling you, Mitt’s gonna win this. . . . The real question is — will he be able to win against Obama? It is really uphill, because our beloved national media is 100 percent behind Obama . . .”
Peery Anderson, a political science professor at WSU, stood up to commend Hatch for all the WSU interns his office employs. Lonald Wishom, currently diversity vice president and a political science junior at WSU, also stood and commented that whoever is elected as U.S. president, “the other side is gonna spend the next four years doing everything that they can to not let that administration be successful. . . . People put the needs of their party over the needs of their country,” to which Hatch replied that he would like to have him as an intern.
Two interns for Hatch’s campaign who were on hand, Abraham Pollard and Alexa Eaton, are also political science students at WSU. Both Pollard and Eaton, who do not speak officially for the campaign, said Hatch’s re-election is critical for Utah because of his experience and credibility with Congress.
“A direct result is our tuition cost’s lower because we have somebody like Senator Hatch as a member of Congress that likes Weber State; he had to make sure that colleges are getting federal funds, Utah schools get funded,” Pollard said. “. . . I mean, it is stuff like that that matters.”
Eaton echoed Pollard’s reasons for supporting Hatch, saying Hatch is crucial to the state’s job growth and economy.
“I think for Utah specifically, he is a job-builder, and he is going to keep Hill (Air Force Base) in, and I think Hill will flat-out be moved from Utah if Hatch is not involved . . . If he isn’t re-elected, we’re gonna be electing someone who has essentially no power, and we’ll have two junior senators and Utah will lose jobs, we will lose prestige, we will lose national programs.”
Wishom, who does indeed plan to apply for an internship with Hatch, said he supports Hatch on certain issues and disagrees with him on others, but what he definitely supports is civic engagement for students.
“I just want to encourage everybody that reads this article in The Signpost to really start checking stuff out like this,” Wishom said. “I mean, this is a Saturday, people have better stuff to do on a Saturday, or they think they do, but really, these people control decisions that are gonna affect your life.”