Sen. Hatch to Mitt Romney: Advice from one Mormon Republican to another

Jonathan Karl, Richard Coolidge & Sherisse Pham
Power Players

Spinners and Winners

Sen. Orrin Hatch had to fight for his political life this year, when he was nearly beaten in the Republican primary in his home state of Utah. Spinners and Winners caught up with Hatch on the convention floor in Tampa, where the long-time senator credited his background for his primary victory. Like many of the personal stories being told at the convention this week, Hatch said he comes from humble roots -- an experience that prepared him for tough political battles like the one he fought.

"I'm a tough old bird and everybody knows it. I'm a nice person but I'm tough," said Hatch. "And I've come up the hard way. I remember when we didn't have enough to eat except for the little half-acre garden that we planted."

But Romney doesn't share that story, and his background has made it difficult for some voters to relate to him. Hatch says Romney needs to embrace his success.

"Just say, 'Yes I've been very fortunate but I've earned every dime I've ever made and I'm successful because of a lot of breaks in life but on the other hand, a lot of hard work I've had in life too.' "

The senator, a fellow Mormon, also said Romney's time abroad as a missionary was, in its own way, a hardship.

"He served a mission for his church over in France, a very difficult mission by the way where people come up to you and say, 'I'm an atheist and I'm a Catholic.' But he learned to love people, he learned to work with people, he learned to serve, and that's what you get from those kind of experiences."

Romney's faith could be a potentially difficult issue for voters unfamiliar with Mormonism, but Hatch seems to want to lay those concerns to rest.

"If you look at his church background, he voluntarily gave a good deal of his life to help others without any kind of compensation, without any kind of fanfare, behind the scenes in most cases and frankly, he has always lived a real Christian life," says Hatch.