In Utah trip, Trump looks to boost Hatch

Niels Lesniewski, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

That Hatch hit the campaign trail with Donald Trump Jr. last year, including visits to Mormon communities in Arizona, is not lost on the president or his loyal advisers.

Romney has been preparing to run for the seat if Hatch retires. The former Massachusetts governor currently lives in Utah. He was the first member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be a major party's presidential nominee.

And Romney has a jagged history with Trump.

Last year, as Trump zeroed in on the GOP nomination for the presidency, Romney came out strongly against him in a blistering speech.

"Dishonesty is Donald Trump's hallmark," he said on March 3, 2016. "His imagination must not be married to real power."

"There's plenty of evidence that Mr. Trump is a con man and a fake," Romney said.

Regardless, Romney met with Trump during the transition and was, at least on the surface, a candidate to be secretary of State before Trump tapped Rex Tillerson for the post.

And last month, Romney said there was no place for Roy Moore in Republican politics, calling for the Alabama GOP Senate nominee to step aside in light of reports he made sexual advances toward underage girls when he was in his 30s. "Innocent until proven guilty is for criminal convictions, not elections," Romney tweeted. Moore has denied the allegations.

Trump reiterated his support for Moore on Monday, brushing aside the allegations of sexual misconduct.


Romney then had this to say on Twitter: "Roy Moore in the US Senate would be a stain on the GOP and on the nation. Leigh Corfman and other victims are courageous heroes. No vote, no majority is worth losing our honor, our integrity."

On the Moore allegations, Hatch first said he "hoped it's not true." He later said if they were true, Moore should drop out.

Just how much sway Trump has over Utah voters is an open question as well. In the 2016 election, he carried the overwhelmingly Republican state with just 45 percent of the vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton's 27 percent. Independent candidate Evan McMullin, a Mormon, onetime Capitol Hill staffer and former CIA officer who ran as a strident critic of Trump, took 21 percent of the vote.

(Jason Dick and John T. Bennett contributed to this report.)

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