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'Wicked man': McMullin denounces Trump endorsement of Utah GOP Sen. Mike Lee

Donald Trump, Mike Lee
President Donald Trump stand with Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, at the Utah State Capitol Monday, Dec. 4, 2017, in Salt Lake City. Trump traveled to Salt Lake City to announce plans to shrink two sprawling national monuments in Utah in a move that will delight the state’s GOP politicians and many rural residents who see the lands as prime examples of federal overreach, but will enrage tribes and environmentalist groups who vow to immediately sue to preserve the monuments. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

‘Wicked man’: McMullin denounces Trump endorsement of Utah GOP Sen. Mike Lee

April 04, 11:14 AM April 04, 11:14 AM

Former President Donald Trump offered his endorsement to Utah Sen. Mike Lee on Friday, prompting the immediate backlash of the incumbent’s top challenger, Evan McMullin.

In a tweet Friday, McMullin released a new attack ad questioning the Utah senator’s involvement in Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. In the video, McMullin calls on Lee to “come clean” about the extent of his involvement on Jan. 6 and to cooperate with the House committee investigating the riot at the Capitol.

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“Sen. Mike Lee, once a constitutional conservative, now has the endorsement of a wicked man who tried to dismantle our republic and stay in power against the people’s will,” McMullin said. “Lee sacrificed his honor and values to serve him at the expense of Utah and our nation. I will not.”

However, it’s not entirely clear whether Trump’s endorsement will offer much standing among Utah voters. Although it’s a reliably red state, Republicans there remain hesitant to back the former president, which may complicate Lee’s reelection bid because he is seen as one of Trump’s strong allies.


Despite previous annoyances with the senior Utah senator, Trump argued that Lee has done an “outstanding job” during his 11-year tenure.

“There is no greater voice for our Military, our Vets, Law and Order, or Second Amendment, which is under total siege. He loves his State, and is by far the superior Senator there — not even a contest!” Trump said, referencing Sen. Mitt Romney, who twice voted for the former president’s impeachment.

McMullin butted heads with Trump when he launched an anti-Trump presidential bid in 2016. Lee threw his support behind McMullin’s campaign before embracing Trump once he took office.

Trump pointed to the independent candidate’s failed presidential run as evidence he doesn’t represent the standards and policies” of Utahans, referring to him with his longtime nickname “McMuffin.”

“All you have to do is read the ads about McMuffin in the last campaign to know what he stands for,” Trump said. “He is laughed at by all and would be a disaster for the state — and you can’t have two such senators like that at one time,” a reference to Romney, a vocal Trump critic.

Lee holds a strong lead in polling among Utah voters, with 43% saying they would vote for the incumbent to take on a third term, according to a recent Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics survey. Another 19% said they’d back McMullin, and 11% are leaning toward Democrat Kael Weston.

About 3% said they’d choose someone else, and 24% are still unsure.


McMullin has garnered support from several prominent Democratic politicians in the state, with many endorsing the former Republican as they concede that it’s likely their party can’t overcome the GOP stronghold. In fact, many Democratic leaders have pleaded with their counterparts not to launch a campaign.

Notably, Romney, Utah’s junior senator, has declined to endorse either Lee or McMullin in the race, saying neither has approached him for one.

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