Orrin Hatch's challenger Dan Liljenquist on Utah Senate race: ‘This is not in the bag'

"It's been notoriously difficult to poll delegates," Liljenquist said Wednesday. Both Liljenquist and his campaign manager Holly Richardson point to now-Rep. Jason Chaffetz' polling heading into the 2008 GOP convention. "Jason Chaffetz was polling in the single digits going into convention, ended up with 59 percent of the vote in the convention," Liljenquist said. According to a Hatch campaign poll of delegates, Hatch is leading with 61 percent support compared to Liljenquist's 22 percent.

Liljenquist spent a portion of Wednesday morning practicing his convention speech, something all qualified candidates are offered time to deliver. If his speech is anything like the messages he gave to visiting delegates here Wednesday, it will be about his conservative vision, his experience, and maybe even the guy most likely to top the GOP ticket.

"You've heard about Bain [& Company] in the presidential race," Liljenquist told his first group of about eight town hall visitors Wednesday night in reference to the company Mitt Romney is known for leading. "It was a great training experience. It was high pressure."

Romney has factored significantly into this Senate race because the presidential candidate has publicly endorsed Hatch and has appeared in television and radio ads for the senator.

"We need strong leadership in Congress to fix the economy, and we can count on Senator Orrin Hatch in the fight to lower taxes, to balance the budget, and to repeal the federal government takeover of health care," Romney says in a new television ad.

Liljenquist's campaign notes the endorsement of Hatch was issued last September, months before their candidate quit his state Senate position to mount his campaign. They believe Romney's beliefs line up more closely with Liljenquist than with Hatch.

"The type of candidate Mitt Romney is promoting-- someone with private sector business experience, someone who is not a career politician, someone tough on spending-- Dan fits that profile," campaign manager Richardson told Yahoo News.

Liljenquist's time at Bain in the early 2000's did not overlap with Romney's tenure, but the Senate challenger made clear to his audience Wednesday he will be able to work with Romney-- who shares the same support for the "Bain Way"-- if both men are elected.

Liljenquist is running on a fiscal and socially conservative platform, touting his time at Bain, his skill as an entrepreneur and small business owner, and his experience as a state senator (from 2009-2011), which includes his reform of the state pension system for public employees and Medicare.

Liljenquist argues that Hatch has presided over excessive spending, supported the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) bailout, cosponsored the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), and taken many other fiscally irresponsible actions.

For his part, Liljenquist has been criticized for a lack of experience, and has been attacked-- wrongly, his campaign and fact checking groups assert-- for supporting state pension double-dipping and for low attendance in the legislature.

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