Between the hectic helter-skelter of nurses, doctors, and well wishes from a long-cultivated community of friends and former aides, Bennett faced a quiet moment with his son Jim and his wife Joyce. It was not a moment for self-pity. Instead, with a slight slurring in his words, Bennett drew them close to express a dying wish: "Are there any Muslims in the hospital?" he asked. "I'd love to go up to every single one of them to thank them for being in this country, and apologize to them on behalf of the Republican Party for Donald Trump," Bennett told his wife and son, both of whom relayed this story to The Daily Beast.
The 2010 election cycle was pretty brutal for Democrats, but it wasn't much fun for mainstream Republicans, either. As GOP politics went further over the right-wing cliff, a variety of Republicans who'd spent their careers as prominent GOP public servants found themselves in a party they no longer recognized.
It was the year Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter and Florida's Charlie Crist were forced from the party. South Carolina's Bob Inglis, Alaska's Lisa Murkowski, and Delaware's Mike Castle lost in primaries because they were deemed insufficiently conservative. And then there was Utah's Bob Bennett, a three-term Republican senator with a conservative record, who was thrown out of office by his own party in rather dramatic fashion.
At the Utah Republican Convention in 2010, GOP activists needed to choose two candidates who'd face off in a Senate primary. Bennett, after 18 years of service, came in third behind two Tea Party contenders.
More recently, Bennett experienced serious health problems, including a tough fight with pancreatic cancer, followed by a stroke. The Daily Beast reported last night, however, that the former senator's focus as his life wound down was actually about 2016 politics.
According to the article, Bennett brought up the issue of Muslims in America, and Trump's offensive posturing, "over and over again" in his dying days, with family members and reporters.
"In the last days of his life this was an issue that was pressing in his mind ... disgust for Donald Trump's xenophobia," his son said, adding that the former senator saw parallels between the experiences faced by Mormons and Muslims. Bennett reportedly believed in "defending the rights ... of any denomination who may be unpopular and too weak to defend themselves."
The former senator died in a D.C. hospital two weeks ago.