Donald Trump says Mitt Romney has 'abused' Mike Lee by not endorsing him

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, speaks as President Donald Trump looks on at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Dec. 4, 2017. Trump weighed in on Lee’s reelection bid this week.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, speaks as President Donald Trump looks on at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Dec. 4, 2017. Trump weighed in on Lee’s reelection bid this week. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)


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SALT LAKE CITY — Former President Donald Trump says Sen. Mike Lee has been "abused" by a fellow Republican senator from Utah, referring to the fact that Sen. Mitt Romney has not endorsed Lee's reelection bid.

"Mike Lee is an outstanding senator who has been abused, in an unprecedented way, by a fellow Republican senator from his own state, something which rarely has happened in political history," Trump said in a statement Wednesday.

"Such an event would only be understandable if Mike did not perform his duties as a United States senator, but he has, and he has performed them well."

Trump's statement comes after Lee pleaded for Romney to endorse him and get his family to donate to his campaign Tuesday on Fox News' "Tucker Carlson Tonight."

"It's not too late, Mitt. You can join the party," Lee said on the program.

"I'd welcome you to do so because otherwise you'd be stuck with two more years of Chuck Schumer being the leader and two more years of Joe Biden having unfettered rule over the United States Senate without any Republican backstop."

Earlier this year, Romney said he considers both Lee and independent challenger Evan McMullin friends and that he intends to remain neutral.

As he has done in the past, Trump resorted to name-calling when referring to McMullin, who is running neck and neck with Lee in the Senate race. The latest Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll shows Lee with a four-point lead over McMullin.

"McMuffin does not represent the values of Utah, but neither, as you will see in two years, does Mitt Romney, who refuses to endorse his fellow Republican Senator, Mike Lee," the former president said.

"Mike should now accept that fact and go on to win a race against a man who should have, based on his failed career as a politician, no chance of winning."

Trump, who endorsed Lee in April, again gave the senator his "complete and total endorsement." He added, "Mitt Romney and Evan McMuffin can count on the fact that they will never have my endorsement!"

In the statement, Trump says he won Utah "twice in a landslide," including beating "Evan 'McMuffin' McMullin."

Trump did not win Utah in a landslide in the 2016 presidential election.

In 2016, Trump captured less than 46% of the vote, with Democrat Hillary finishing second and McMullin, running as an independent, third. Four years later, Trump won Utah with 58% of the vote to Joe Biden's 38%.

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Dennis Romboy
Dennis Romboy is an editor and reporter for the Deseret News. He has covered a variety of beats over the years, including state and local government, social issues and courts. A Utah native, Romboy earned a degree in journalism from the University of Utah. He enjoys cycling, snowboarding and running.

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