Utah’s now a battleground state and Hillary Clinton plans to put more resources into winning it

Posted at 2:13 PM, Oct 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-20 12:41:53-04

LAS VEGAS -- With new polling that shows once reliably Republican Utah is now a "battleground state," Hillary Clinton's campaign manager said they will pump more resources into winning it.

"It doesn't surprise me that people in Utah are leaving Donald Trump and are looking for other options," Robby Mook said in an interview Wednesday with FOX 13 ahead of the presidential debate at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

Various polls show a three way race between Clinton, Trump and independent candidate Evan McMullin. While voters surveyed state that they do not like Trump, they have also made it clear they do not like Clinton. That has led to the rise of McMullin and Utah becoming a "toss up" in the election.

Mook told FOX 13 that the Clinton campaign will put more resources into Utah, beefing up its "ground game" and spending more on advertisements. More surrogates will also be sent, but it is not likely that Clinton herself will visit the state in the final days of the election.

"Battleground states like Utah are called that for a reason, they could go either way. Every vote matters and everybody needs to turn out," Mook said.

Asked by FOX 13 if he believes Clinton could win Utah, Mook said he sees it as a three way contest.

"It could go any different direction and we want to fight to win another state for Hillary Clinton. But more than anything, Utah has an outsized role in sending a message this election to reject Donald Trump," he said.

One Trump supporter, actor Scott Baio, appeared stunned to hear that Utah would not be a solid Republican state.

"Utah?" he said in brief remarks to FOX 13 outside the Thomas & Mack Center at UNLV.

Baio predicted that Utah would still vote GOP. Former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer told FOX 13 it was "unfortunate that third-party person got in there."

"I hope people will come to their senses and realize that he can't win the presidency no matter how great they think he is," she said of McMullin. "The race is between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and to throw your vote away like that is throwing away all your values. It's a shame that's taking place."

Don Peay, a Utah-based Trump supporter, attended Wednesday's debate and believed the Republican candidate won. He also said Utah should vote Trump.

"I know some people think it makes them proud to take a stand, but from a political and pragmatic standpoint it's stupid," he told reporters after the debate. "This makes us look sophmoric politically, from a national standpoint. And it makes it look like we're throwing away a vote."