In an op-ed in The Washington Post Sunday, Bennett not only hung the Carter insult on the party that defeated him but also said the Tea Party falls well short of the principles, ideals and optimism of one of its heroes, Carter's successor, former President Ronald Reagan.
"Voters embraced Ronald Reagan because he wasn't Jimmy Carter, proving that good slogans do not necessarily produce good government," Bennett wrote.
Bennett urged Tea Party members to "follow Reagan, not Carter," adding, "They should stop the gloom talk. … Unlike Carter, Reagan had more than slogans.
"He came to Washington with a clear plan to revive the economy and overhaul the tax code, revitalize the military, and, most important, boost the national spirit. He saw the Republican Party as a big tent and he successfully did what is considered political suicide today: He worked across party lines and tried to find compromise."
Bennett lost in Utah's Republican nominating convention in the most dramatic evidence yet of the Tea Party influence and its anti-Washington sentiments, captured in party slogans like "Send a Message to Washington" and "Take Back America."
The GOP backed two other candidates, who will compete for the nomination at a June primary. Neither has held public office.