Summarized by Eric Bunker
Versatile Hatch: He writes both laws and songs
Des Moines IA Register 17Oct99 N2
By Jane Norman: Register Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A popular guest on the Sunday-morning talk shows, U.S.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, the articulate chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee
is considered by some the epitome of the accomplished Washington politician.
Regarded among senators as gracious, helpful, and a conservative Republican
that is willing to forge alliances and even friendships with liberals such
as Ted Kennedy when the causes are legitimate. On the fashion side, this
Utah Republican is so polished that the Washingtonian magazine recently
dubbed him one of the Capitol's best-dressed Republicans.
However, many in Washington and Utah are puzzled why he would undertake an
arduous race for president that seems like a lost cause from the outset.
Some believe that if even Bush was not in the race he wouldn't do much
better because his reputation as a deal-maker in the Senate raises
suspicions among conservatives. Hatch, 65, concedes that in this last
minute leap, he's hoping Bush will stumble, clearing the way for him as the
next choice. But there's far more to it than that, he says.
"If I didn't think I could do a better job than the rest of them put
together, I wouldn't be in it," he said. "I have more experience than
anybody in the race, including the two Democrats. I have a better record of
accomplishment than any of them.
"There's also no question I know more about picking federal judges than all
of them put together, and that to me is the No. 1 issue in the presidential
election," he said.
Money is a problem for Hatch though, reportedly raising only $1.3 million
since July, last among all the candidates. Bush has raised $56 million so
far, including $19 million since July.
Born in Pittsburgh during the Depression, he comes from a working class
family of nine children of very humble circumstances. The family was
active in the Church.
As a child to earn money, Hatch tended chickens and sold eggs around the
neighborhood. Tragedy struck at age 10 with the death of his only brother,
Jesse, in World War II. The family also lost two children in childbirth.
With the help of a scholarship, he went to Brigham Young University in 1952,
where he met his future wife, Elaine Hansen. Orrin worked as a janitor to
pay the bills. After graduation, Orrin and Elaine returned to Pittsburgh,
where Hatch's father helped him fix an old chicken coop for the young couple
to live in while Hatch attended law school at the University of Pittsburgh.
The couple today have six children and 19 grandchildren.
Sen. Hatch practiced law in Pittsburgh and Utah before suddenly entering the
race for Senate in 1976, because he thought the other candidates were too
moderate. Hatch likes to describe himself as a "gutsy conservative."
As a hobby, Sen. Hatch has penned the lyrics to hundreds of songs ñ
religious songs, love songs, patriotic themes. Many have made it onto albums
by inspirational artists, such a Gladys Knight.
"I write on planes, or when I have a few moments to think or reflect," he
said. "Especially in church I sometimes come up with really good ideas." He
also has a novel in the works, and a second book on how to make decisions.
To see where Sen. Hatch stands on the issues, his website can be accessed