Washington • A biographer who has written two endearing books about Sen. Orrin Hatch is out with a new tome highlighting the senator's successes in conservative causes during his six terms.
Hatch's campaign, which has ramped up to fight off potential challengers, bankrolled Courage: Orrin Hatch: Leading the Fight for Constitutional Rights, and paid for its first printing of 7,500 copies to hand out to potential supporters.
Lee Roderick, a longtime Washington correspondent now back living in Utah, says the idea for this one came after discussing with the senator the reaction he was getting from meeting with Utah voters.
"He felt that he was not being well understood," Roderick says.
"People were standing up and saying, 'What have you done for Utah back in Washington?' And the truth is, he's done an awful lot. We just decided that a book would be helpful letting people know."
The nearly 600-page book highlights Hatch's long career and accomplishments while serving Utah in the Senate from fighting against labor unions when he first entered Congress to protecting Hill Air Force Base from closure to helping establish a new data center in Utah for the National Security Agency.
The tome also includes six photo sections, a 15-page listing of Hatch's accomplishments, details of his charity's gift recipients and a 1987 speech by President Ronald Reagan about Hatch.
The biography reads like campaign material, stressing Hatch's work through the years to allow generic prescription drugs saving consumers more than a trillion dollars, it claims his battles against Democrats and his constant push for a balanced-budget amendment.
"No member of Congress has worked harder," the author states, "than Orrin Hatch to avoid the financial calamity now facing the nation."
Roderick, who served as president of the National Press Club before returning to Salt Lake City as KSL's news director, writes that, from the start, Hatch was a "genuine citizen-senator, in the mold of Jimmy Stewart" from "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."
"The Utahn had never before run for public office, let alone been elected to one," Roderick says. "But already he had a reputation. Fellow reporters at the National Press Club were calling him a 'hotdog,' a show horse rather than a workhorse, and a few unprintable names."
But without Hatch's work in the Senate, the author asserts, millions of workers would have been forced into labor unions, the U.S. economy would have more quickly been driven into massive debt, Clarence Thomas wouldn't be on the Supreme Court and Hill Air Force Base would be a shadow of its former self.
The book may not do anything to sway Hatch's strongest critics, however.
"No amount of desperate, election-year hagiography can hide Orrin Hatch's record," Club for Growth spokesman Barney Keller said, referring to a word that means an idolizing biography. "I suspect conservatives in Utah will find fiction novels about Orrin Hatch's record more useful as kindling than bedside reading."
Roderick, who backs Hatch and whose wife, Yvonne, is a paid campaign consultant, says not to pay much attention to the group's appraisal.
"They're just bad news," Roderick said. "The fact is that [Hatch is] a conservative. He doesn't vote 100 percent the way the tea party might want him to but he simply is a conservative. There's no doubt about that."