Utah GOP touts Trump, but not all Republicans on board

Utah GOP touts Trump, but not all Republicans on board

(Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News, File)

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Some of Utah's top Republicans made the case Tuesday for a Donald Trump presidency. But notable GOP officials — including Gov. Gary Herbert — were conspicuously absent from the show of support.

The Utah Republican Party put out a statement Tuesday supporting Trump and touting the billionaire's positions on issues such as energy drilling and health care.

"We believe that the policies Donald Trump and Mike Pence have put forward reflect the goals of the overwhelming majority of Utahns. By contrast, Hillary Clinton's long record and current agenda put her at odds with the values of Utah citizens and our public policy objectives," the statement read.

The statement is signed by Sen. Orrin Hatch, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, U.S. Reps. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz and top GOP officials in the legislature. U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart also signed the statement after calling Trump "our Mussolini" earlier this year.

But missing from the statement is Herbert, who said earlier this month that he plans to vote for Trump. The governor has said that while some people find billionaire candidate's comments off-putting, he's supporting Trump because he would appoint conservative U.S. Supreme Court nominees and protect states' rights.

Messages left with Herbert's campaign spokesman Marty Carpenter and Utah Republican Party chair James Evans seeking comment on why the governor was not on the Republican Party's statement were not returned Tuesday.

U.S. Rep. Mia Love and Sen. Mike Lee have so far not endorsed Trump and did not sign the statement either.

Trump has had trouble winning over voters and Republicans in deep-red Utah. The majority of the state's residents are socially conservative Mormons, many of whom have been reluctant to embrace Trump. They've cited issues such as his brash personality, controversial comments he's made about women and minorities, his past infidelities and his proposed temporary ban on foreign Muslims.

The Utah GOP's statement comes on the heels on an anti-Trump mailer the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign sent to Utah voters, labeling Trump as "unfit and unprepared."

Marlon Marshall, Clinton's director of state campaigns, said "Donald Trump's offensive rhetoric has made Utah more competitive than before, and given us an avenue to talk to new voters through many means ... We are happy to take advantage of that opportunity."

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