SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert criticized President Donald Trump for being "petty" about Rep. Mia Love's narrow loss that came after she declined to embrace offers of election help from the White House.
"I think it was just bad to throw her under the bus," the governor told Politico. "She's the first African-American woman Republican elected to Congress in American history, and we're proud of that. And she was doing some good things."
Love, R-Utah, didn't concede her 4th Congressional District seat to Democratic Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams until nearly three weeks after the Nov. 6 election. McAdams, who won by less than 700 votes, had claimed victory a week earlier.
But Trump declared the race over on Nov. 7 during a White House news conference. The president included Love in a list of Republican candidates he said were defeated because they spurned his offers of help.
“Mia Love gave me no love, and she lost,” Trump said. “Too bad. Sorry about that, Mia.”
Herbert, who was interviewed Thursday by Politico during a meeting of the Republican Governors Association in Scottsdale, Arizona, described the president's behavior as petty.
"There's no need to be petty about it, and that's part of the challenge we have with this administration," he said. "Sometimes they seem to have a tit for tat and are petty."
But the governor told the online political news source based in the Washington, D.C., area that he has not yet brought up his concerns about Trump's tone directly with the White House.
However, he suggested that could happen during an upcoming meeting with Vice President Mike Pence. He considers Pence, a former Indiana governor, a personal friend.
"I think he recognizes the strengths and the weaknesses we have as a party, and what we can do to minimize the weaknesses and amplify the positives," Herbert said.
Paul Edwards, the governor's deputy chief of staff, said Friday that there had been discussions about Pence coming to Utah, "but we just learned that hoped-for visit isn’t going to happen now."
Love, whose campaign did send a robocall Trump recorded to about 1,000 voters on Election Day, said in her concession speech that his comments help demonstrate "the problems Washington politicians have with minorities and black Americans."
The president reportedly offered to make a campaign stop for Love in Utah during a national tour on behalf of Republican candidates that included an Oct. 20 appearance in Elko, Nevada.