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Robert Bennett (1933 - 2016)

Getty Images / Congressional Quarterly / Scott J. Ferrell

Robert Bennett (1933 - 2016)

Robert Bennett, a former Republican U.S. senator from Utah, died April 4 of complications of a recent stroke, according to a statement issued by his family. He was 82.

Bennett also had pancreatic cancer.

"His final days were filled with kindness and love, and the family greatly appreciates the outpouring of well wishes and support," the statement said. "It touched his heart, and deeply touched ours, to see how much he was loved."

Bennett, whose father, Wallace F. Bennett, also served in the U.S. Senate, served three terms as a U.S. senator for Utah.

Bennett's credits included chairmanships and senior positions on several key Senate committees, including the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, Appropriations Committee, Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and more.

Although he was a reliable conservative politician, winning kudos from the American Conservative Union and the National Rifle Association, the Tea Party Movement criticized Bennett for not being conservative enough. The party targeted him in the 2010 Utah Republican State Convention in part because of his work to help advance the 2008 bank-bailout program under President George W. Bush. Bennett was kept off the GOP primary ballot – and thus was denied a bid for a fourth Senate term – after he placed a distant third behind two Tea Party candidates.

After the convention, Bennett operated a consulting firm and became a lobbyist.

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In a statement, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney praised Bennett, his good friend.

"He was respected by men and women on both sides of the aisle, not only for his expertise but also for his common touch, his common sense, and his commitment to uncommon virtues," Romney said.

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