Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Hillary Clinton Writes Op-Ed to Win over Mormons in Utah: Will It Work?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Hillary Clinton Writes Op-Ed to Win over Mormons in Utah: Will It Work?

Article excerpt

In Utah, a traditionally red state where more than 60 percent of residents are Mormon, it's typically taken for granted that the Republican presidential candidate will earn the most votes.

But this election is different. Many Mormon Republicans say they are reluctant to vote for Republican nominee Donald Trump, having been turned off by his views on immigration and proposed temporary ban on Muslims, leaving a number of torn voters whom Hillary Clinton hopes to win over. For the first time since 1964, analysts say, a Democratic presidential candidate could have a chance at winning Utah.

In a guest editorial published in the Deseret News, the newspaper owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, on Wednesday, Ms. Clinton wrote about the importance of religious freedom, comparing Mr. Trump's proposed ban on foreign Muslims entering the country to the historic persecution of Mormons in the United States.

"The issue of religious liberty is an important one in the state, and the notion of a religious test for immigration raises deep concerns," Chris Karpowitz, a director of Brigham Young University's Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy, told The New York Times. "Mormons are sensitive to issues like this because of their own history."

In the op-ed, Clinton mentions several high-profile Mormons, including 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who in March gave a speech in Utah warning voters that "the prospects for a safe and prosperous future are greatly diminished" by voting for Trump. She also references Utah's Republican Gov. Gary Herbert, who backed Sen. Ted Cruz (R) of Texas and has welcomed Syrian refugees into the state.

The state's caucuses in March, in which Trump lost to Senator Cruz, earning only 14 percent of the vote, highlighted Mormon voters' distaste for Trump. But when faced with the choice between Trump and Clinton, voters appear to be divided: A recent poll shows Trump in the lead, at 37 percent, and Clinton at 25 percent.

Utah resident Angie Melton, a Republican who has never voted for a Democrat, tells The New York Times that she will vote for Clinton because "she would be less damaging in terms of world politics. …

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