By Frank Thorp V
In the final days of his life, former Utah Republican Senator Bob Bennett turned to his son and asked him, “Are there any Muslims in this hospital?”
The question caught his son, Jim Bennett, off-guard. It felt like a non-sequitur, and he thought it may have had something to do with his father’s recent stroke.
But Jim said his father, even after the stroke, was “sharp as a tack.”
“So I was standing there with him in the hospital and out of nowhere he asked me, ‘Are there any Muslims in this hospital?'” Jim Bennett told NBC News Wednesday evening.
“I said, ‘Yes, dad, I’m sure there are.'” Jim said of the conversation, which was first reported by the Daily Beast. “And he was very emotional and said, ‘I want to go up to every single one of them and apologize, I want to go up to every single one of them and tell them how grateful I am that they are in this country and apologize on behalf of the Republican Party for Donald Trump.'”
Jim Bennett said that when he later spoke to his mother, Joyce Bennett, about the conversation, she told him that expressing a sense of inclusion for ostracized populations, especially Muslims, had become “something that he was doing quite a lot of in the last months of his life.”
Joyce told her son that his father had approached people wearing hijabs in an airport to “let them know that he was grateful they were in the country and the country was better for them being here.”
Bennett, a three-term Republican Senator who lost in Utah’s 2010 Republican primary to two tea-party opponents, had become increasingly concerned with Trump’s rhetoric in recent months, even after he had initially written off the billionaire businessman when he first jumped into the race.