POLITICS
10/23/2013 01:01 pm ET Updated Oct 23, 2013

Orrin Hatch: Tea Party Republicans Need To Be 'Rehabilitated'

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) had some strong words for his tea party colleagues on Tuesday, suggesting some members need to be "rehabilitated" after their recent actions during the government shutdown.

In an interview with the Deseret News and KSL-TV, Hatch was asked about junior Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). He stopped short of endorsing a second term for the tea party freshman, instead saying that Lee has time "to show he's worthy of being re-elected."

"The tactics were not the right tactics," Hatch said of Lee and fellow Sen. Ted Cruz's effort to defund Obamacare. "It takes experience sometimes to make sure you can use the right tactics."

The morning after the Senate brokered a deal to end October's 16-day government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling, Hatch was vocal about his concerns surrounding the conservative Heritage foundation. He warned that the group could lose relevancy if it continued to argue along lines as radical as going against the budget compromise.

"There's a real question on the minds of many Republicans now," Hatch said. "I am not just speaking for myself, for a lot of people: Is Heritage going to go so political that it really doesn't amount to anything anymore? I hope not."

Hatch currently stands as the 4th longest-serving Republican senator in U.S. history, with more than 36 years of service. In 2012, he staved off a tea party primary challenge from former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist, and later cruised to a 35-point victory in the general election against Democrat Scott Howell.

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