Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller emphasized on Wednesday that the candidate is "going to win Utah" — despite four-way polling that currently puts a little-known third party candidate in the lead there — in an interview with radio host Brian Kilmeade.
And then he mentioned Sen. Mike Lee, a noted Trump critic, as a conservative leader there while explaining how conservative the state is.
Pressed by Kilmeade about Lee's lack of support, Miller said the campaign would welcome it — and that the Utah senator would ultimately realize that the Supreme Court was most important:
KILMEADE: "First off — on Utah. What's going on there?"
MILLER: "Well, Utah. We're going to win Utah. Gov. Pence is actually in Utah today, but we'll win Utah. That's one of the few states where a third-party candidate got on the ballot, and we believe that Republicans and conservatives and even independents and conservative Democrats in Utah will realize — it's a very conservative state. You have conservative leaders like Mike Lee from the state that — unless we elect Donald Trump, that Hillary Clinton will set the country back a generation."
KILMEADE: "But you know Mike Lee does not endorse you guys."
MILLER: "But we'd love to have his support. We'd love to have his vote. I think even Sen. Lee — when he goes into vote — will realize if Hillary Clinton becomes president it will literally set back the Supreme Court a generation, not just a couple years."
KILMEADE: "I know, but Jason, you know that doesn't resonate with the Bushes. It doesn't resonate with Gov. Kasich and with Mike Lee. Even Rand Paul said, 'No problem. I lost. Donald Trump has my support, whatever [he needs].' Obviously Gov. Perry — no problem. He went after me personally. Ben Carson — no problem. With Mike Lee, that is a problem."
Lee has criticized Trump sharply throughout the campaign, even appearing on the floor of the convention before Trump's official nomination to protest. The Utah senator is one of the most prominent anti-Trump conservatives, many of whom are Mormon. Trump's personal life and approach to immigration and Muslims have deeply alienating the Republican Party's Mormon voters, especially in Utah where Evan McMullin may actually become the first independent candidate to win electoral votes in decades.
Nathaniel Meyersohn is a political reporting intern and is based in New York.
Contact Nathaniel Meyersohn at email@example.com.
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