SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Republican congressional hopeful John Jacob believes the devil is impeding his efforts to unseat five-term Rep. Chris Cannon.
"There's another force that wants to keep us from going to Washington, D.C.," Jacob told The Salt Lake Tribune. "It's the devil is what it is. I don't want you to print that, but it feels like that's what it is."
Jacob faces Cannon in Tuesday's primary election following a campaign battle that has focused on immigration. Cannon has supported a guest-worker program and Jacob has opposed it.
In other developments Thursday, Jacob denied having had a gambling addiction and acknowledged misstating the number of illegal immigrants at the state prison in Gunnison.
Jacob had said that 40 percent of the inmates at the Central Utah Correctional Facility were illegal immigrants. Christine Mitchell, deputy state corrections director, said they made up 8.4 percent of the Gunnison prison population.
Jacob acknowledged the error, and declined to say who had told him it was 40 percent because he didn't want them to get into trouble.
In response to rumors about his gambling, the millionaire businessman said he played cards during a few trips to Las Vegas, winning as much as $1,000 and losing up to "a couple hundred bucks" at different times, but quit gambling after President Gordon B. Hinckley, leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, last year forcefully repeated the church's long-standing opposition to all forms of gambling.
Jacob has said little about gambling during the campaign, telling one newspaper he was against it, and, during the state Republican convention in May, saying, "I am glad that Chris (Cannon) is keeping gambling out of Utah."
"Gambling hurts everybody involved," Jacob told the Deseret Morning News. "When you gamble, you're not producing anything. So, if you're winning, someone else is losing. I believe the gambling craze that's going on right now is hurting a lot of people."
Regarding the devil, Jacob said Thursday that since he decided to run for Congress, Satan has bollixed his business deals, preventing him from putting as much money into the race as he had hoped.
Numerous business deals he had lined up have been delayed, freezing money he was counting on to finance his race.
"You know, you plan, you organize, you put your budget together and when you have 10 things fall through, not just one, there's some other, something else that is happening," Jacob said.
Asked if he actually believed that "something else" was indeed Satan, Jacob said: "I don't know who else it would be if it wasn't him. Now when that gets out in the paper, I'm going to be one of the screw-loose people."
Jacob said during a Wednesday immigration event that the devil was working against him, then reiterated his belief Thursday in a meeting with The Salt Lake Tribune editorial board.
"There's a lot of adversity. There's no question I've had experiences that I think there's an outside force," he said.
Jacob, who, like Cannon and the rest of Utah's congressional delegation, is a Mormon, said he is not the only one who is being opposed by the devil.
He said both Cannon and Sen. Bob Bennett have lost millions of dollars since going to Congress, and he believes their adversity is rooted in the same dark origins.
Cannon chief of staff Joe Hunter said, "Chris would not attribute any adversities to any outside influence.
"I'm not sure that Chris would even call them adversities. It's a conscious decision on Chris' part to do what's important to him. There's been far more important events in Chris' life than his business," he said.
Jacob explained that, when people try to do something good, there are frequently forces that align to stop them.
"We have a country that was created by our Heavenly Father and it was a country that had a Constitution and everyone who came to America had strong faith. If that can be destroyed that would be the adversity. ... Whether you want to call that Satan or whoever you want to call it, I believe in the last eight months I've experienced that."
(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)