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Rep. Mia Love will campaign in Utah during GOP convention

(File photo)



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SALT LAKE CITY — Not only is Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, skipping this week's Republican National Convention despite being elected a delegate, she also has decided not to go on a congressional trip to Israel.

Just two weeks ago, Love's campaign manager, Dave Hansen, said the congresswoman was giving up her delegate slot at the four-day convention that begins Monday in Cleveland to study terrorism overseas.

Now, though, Hansen said she's going to spend the time in the 4th District instead.

The first-term congresswoman faces a tough re-election challenge from Democrat Doug Owens, who came within 5 percentage points of winning the seat in 2014. The race has been rated a toss-up by two nonpartisan national political entities.

Hansen said campaign events are being scheduled in Utah during the convention where controversial billionaire businessman Donald Trump is set to be formally nominated as the Republican presidential candidate.

"I think her time is best spent here in the state," Hansen said, adding that there are political "advantages and disadvantages" to being at the convention. In Utah, she'll be able to campaign face to face with voters.

"She is her own best salesperson. When you can put her in front of people, meeting with people, she is magic. She does an unbelievable job," he said, of winning them over.

Owens' spokesman, Taylor Morgan, said Love's "summer sounds a lot like her term in Congress."

Morgan said that's because "Love's first plan was to support a national party agenda. Her second was to get as far away from (the) convention as she could. Now, it's finally occurred to her to spend some time in Utah."

Love, the first black Republican woman in Congress, gave a primetime speech at the 2012 GOP convention. While she lost her bid that year to unseat now-retired Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, Love gained a national profile.

Hansen said he was not aware of any request for Love to speak at this year's GOP national convention, but he said "there are some that would have loved to have had her there."

He also said she was never vetted as a possible running mate for Trump despite some speculation.

Utah's all-Republican congressional delegation is split over attending the GOP convention. Besides Love, both Reps. Jason Chaffetz and Chris Stewart are staying away.

But Rep. Rob Bishop and Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee are headed to Cleveland. Bishop and Lee are both among Utah's 40 delegates elected at the state party's convention in April.

Contributing Ladd Egan

Lisa Riley Roche

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