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Sen. Orrin Hatch Invites Himself To Tea Party Town Hall

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has long been considered one of Capitol Hill's staunchest conservatives, and that despite his famous long-time friendship with the Senate's late liberal lion, Edward Kennedy.

But there are those in the Tea Party movement who see Hatch as suspect. Thus, a potential primary fight looms for Hatch because he supported, among other things, the bank bailouts in 2008.

So Hatch is courting the Tea Party in an attempt to avoid the fate of his one-time Senate colleague, also from Utah, Robert Bennett who lost his seat to Tea Party favorite, Sen. Mike Lee.

Bennett incurred Tea Party anger for his bailout votes as well.

Hatch plans to attend a Tea Party town hall meeting at the National Press Club in Washington Tuesday evening, the National Journal reports:

An excerpt:

The Tea Party Express, the group sponsoring Tuesday's forum, was a leading force in the Utah Senate race that ousted Bennett. The group also helped dark-horse GOP Senate candidates knock off establishment front-runners in other states, including Alaska, Delaware, and Nevada.

Tea Party Express spokesperson Levi Russell said that the group didn't invite Hatch to the forum. The senator invited himself.

"Sen. Hatch heard about it and expressed interest," Russell said. "And it's a smart move. It's an effort to reach out to us and the movement at large and say, 'Hey, I've made mistakes, but I'm willing to change.' It may be too little too late, but that's up to the voters to decide. Either way, someone like Hatch who's definitely taken heat from conservatives needs to be prepared to answer some difficult questions."

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Frank James joined NPR News in April 2009 to launch the blog, "The Two-Way," with co-blogger Mark Memmott.