Former GOP Sen. Bob Bennett: "There Were Death Threats for All of Us"

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In the wake of the tragic shooting in Tucson, Arizona, public figures everywhere are rethinking issues of security, and some are reflecting on the level of threats they've seen in recent years.

On Monday’s show (listen here), former Utah Senator Bob Bennett, who was defeated in the GOP primary last year by a Tea Party candidate, recalled the threats he faced in office.

After he and several other Republicans voted for President Bush's Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act in 2007, Bennett said, voices from the fringe sent a "chilling" message to the bill's supporters:

There were death threats for all of us… and one particular talk radio show gave out our home addresses and recommended that everybody show up at our homes  — he had my address correctly — … on the Fourth of July with a gun [and] demand that we resign immediately and if we did not agree to resign our offices to quote,  ‘remove us from office'...And then the talk show host said you will not be prosecuted because it is your constitutional right. That kind of thing is pretty chilling and obviously has no place in political dialogue.

Bennett said both sides need to be careful. "...Some of the nastiest rhetoric I've seen in my political career has come from Democrats." He said he's worried about the tone of American politics right now, and Bennett pointed to some of the heated rhetoric about the "danger" President Obama allegedly presents:

We tend to demonize our opponents – not just disagree with them, but demonize our opponents — and say that the country is in peril if this particular person is elected. And so then it becomes a patriotic act to save the country from the individual that would destroy it. I supported John McCain in the election, but I happen to know Barack Obama. I served with him as a Senator. And however much I might disagree with him, Barack Obama is not an evil person bent on destroying the United States. Those who think he is either don't know him or don't want to know him.

See more on the show and interview from KCPW's Jeff Robinson.

-By staff intern Dean Wagner Russell.

This program aired on January 11, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.