THE SPECTRUM: Utah has been a friendly place to Mitt Romney.
A part of the state’s Republican majority and a member of its predominant faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Romney still carries credit for having helped to raise Utah’s reputation through his work managing the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City.
As a presidential candidate in 2012, he won 73 percent of the vote here, his highest in any state.
On Monday, now running as a candidate this year for the U.S. Senate seat being left by the retiring Orrin Hatch, Romney was greeted like a celebrity by throngs of supporters at a campaign appearance at Dixie State University, with hundreds of students lining up to shake hands and take photographs.
“I was a huge fan. I love everything he stands for,” said Allie Kittell, a 20-year-old DSU student who waited in the line. “He’s so family-oriented.”
How Utah are you?
With Hatch out of the race, the only declared candidates already vying for the seat were Republican attorney Larry Meyers, Democrats Jenny Wilson and Mitchell Vice, along with Libertarian Craig Bowden.
But while Romney, 70, appears to be the presumptive front-runner in the Senate race, he’s still been dogged by questions about his actual ties to the Beehive State.
A Michigan native whose highest political office was as governor of Massachusetts, he’s been a resident of the Holladay area outside of Salt Lake City the past four years, and critics are using terms like “carpetbagger” to poke holes in his candidacy.
That might be why he spent part of his day taking a tour of the St. George Tabernacle, a building his great-great grandfather designed and help build.
Miles Romney, an early Mormon pioneer and architect, designed both the St. George Tabernacle and Brigham Young Winter Home and Office. Both buildings are listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and are popular attractions today with St. George area visitors.
He also worked as superintendent of the construction of the St. George Temple, and died in 1877 at the age of 70 from complications suffered from a fall while working at the building, according to the Washington County Historical Society.
Romney noted Monday that he went to school in Utah, graduating from Brigham Young University. He has nine grandchildren living in the state, and his son was born here.
But Mitt Romney said Monday he doesn’t think most Utah voters are that worried about his Utah credentials.
“I think most people want to know, what can you do from the Senate to help Utah,” he said. “I think by virtue of the associations I have in Washington (D.C.), in the Senate, in the House and in the White House, I can do more for Utah and the people of Utah than the average incoming freshman senator might be able to accomplish.”
Taking Utah to Washington
Romney has vowed to take “Utah values” to Washington, D.C., and said Monday he wants to help improve the level of political and social discourse taking place in the country.
Words like “civility” and “professionalism” were common among the students and others who gathered to greet Romney at DSU, with some arguing he could counter some of President Donald Trump’s mannerisms.
“I think he could be a strong voice, someone to say, no Mr. President, that’s not how we do things in the United States,” said Cameron Helvie, 24, another of those who lined up to take photos.
A frequent critic of the president, Romney gave a speech two years ago calling then-candidate Trump a “phony” and a “fraud” and warning that his policies could “balloon the deficit and national debt,” instigate a trade war and threaten national security.
After Trump was elected, Romney praised the president for getting elected and interviewed to serve as secretary of state. Trump picked Rex Tillerson to lead the State Department instead.
Since then Romney has sometimes been critical of the president on social media.
After Trump threw his support behind controversial Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore despite multiple allegations he had sexually abused teenagers years earlier, Romney tweeted that he believed one of Moore’s accusers and argued electing him “would be a stain on the GOP and the nation.”
Romney also called out Trump after the president’s response to a neo-nazi rally and violence in Charlottesville, Va., last year, and after the president reportedly asked about why the U.S. needed to bring in immigrants from “s–hole” African countries.
Still, Romney has agreed with Trump on most policy issues, and indicated he would have voted for the Republican tax plan and has supported the president’s judicial nominees.
Original article: https://www.thespectrum.com/story/news/2018/03/05/mitt-romney-tours-st-george-tabernacle-which-his-ancestor-designed-touts-utah-ties/395745002/