WASHINGTON — Utah's two U.S. Senators made dramatically different statements about the likely Republican nominee for president as Donald Trump spent a day meeting with members of Congress.
As President Pro-Tempore and Chairman of the Finance Committee, Senator Orrin Hatch was in on Trump's meeting with Republican Senate leaders, and he told reporters after the meeting he "totally endorsed" Trump.
The night before, Senator Mike Lee answered questions in a so-called "tele-town hall," essentially a large conference call with constituents.
The Washington Examiner reporters Lee saying, "I have some concerns with him. He scares me to death; so does Hillary Clinton. There is no easy choice right now."
Hatch released this written statement, which is far more cautiously worded than his initial words of "total" endorsement:
"This election is perhaps the most important of my lifetime. With such critical issues as the future of the Supreme Court hanging in the balance, it is vital that we defeat Hillary Clinton and elect a Republican to the White House.
During the primary process, I endorsed Jeb Bush and later Marco Rubio. But throughout I said I would support the eventual nominee. Now that Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee, I will do what I can to help him run a successful campaign.
I am glad to have met with Mr. Trump this morning. Many constituents in my home state of Utah have serious reservations about Mr. Trump. To help unify the party and broaden his appeal, I hope Donald will listen to policymakers and carefully consider his approach to issues like international trade, religious liberty, and entitlement reform.
I have offered to help identify future Supreme Court candidates he should consider. And I will continue to encourage Donald to soften some of his rhetoric and always act in a manner worthy of a presidential nominee."