OGDEN -- U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch took several opportunities at a town hall meeting Saturday to stump for his re-election.
The Republican Utah senator is running for a seventh term and intends to chair the Senate Finance Committee. He has made no secret of that intent during the past two months on his tour through the state, and he reiterated it at a town hall meeting at Weber State University.
"It's the reason I'm running again," he said to a crowd of at least 60 people. "(It's) where all these problems are. Sixty percent of all spending goes through that committee."
He did not specifically name and address the opponents he faces for his seat in Congress, including former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist, R-Bountiful, in the meeting.
Instead, he referred to his experience as the reason why people should vote for him. Clout matters, he said.
Most freshman senators can be effective, but not in winning the "huge battles," he added. Though social issues are important, as far as Hatch is concerned, the biggest issue for the country right now is the economy.
He decried the Democrats' unwillingness to cut back on spending and stop increasing the size of government.
Hatch recalled how someone at a different town hall meeting said "seniority doesn't count." He pointed to Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, who, because of his flying experience, knew how to save his threatened plane of passengers by landing in the Hudson River.
At Saturday's town hall, Hatch did not face such a detractor. He instead addressed one group that has been after him for months -- FreedomWorks. The FreedomWorks organization, started by former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey, has been actively trying to unseat Hatch.
At least half the crowd raised their hands when Hatch asked if it had tried to contact them or send them literature about him.
"A lot of (the literature) just happened to be a lot of plain lies," he said. "They say I voted for Fannie (Mae) and Freddie (Mac). Wrong. Total lie. Just shows how rotten they are."
Hatch plans to start sending out his own counter-
brochure to the FreedomWorks campaign next week.
Hatch said the group will do anything to stand in his way -- or that of presidential candidate Mitt Romney, whom he continued to endorse at the meeting.
Valerie Story, a delegate who backs Hatch and attended the town hall meeting, thinks the senator's biggest challenge is simply getting the word out about himself.
"He's been there a long time. Tenure does count," she said, echoing Hatch's sentiments.
At the meeting, Hatch also answered questions from the audience on issues ranging from energy to Social Security.
Immigration came up a few times, including the Dream Act, which Hatch had sponsored. The act would allow citizenship to children brought to the country illegally if they attend college or enlist in the military.
He reiterated his stance that the U.S. should close its borders, but after that, address the problem of illegal immigrants who have become integral to even Utah's economy.
"Most of our fruit growers in Utah, they can't get by without people from down south. They just can't," and there needs to be a solution, he said.