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Trump campaign swing for GOP candidates skipping Utah

SALT LAKE CITY — President Donald Trump is aggressively campaigning for Republicans around the country, but Utah wasn't named Tuesday as one of the states he's expected to visit through September.

That's despite the hotly contested race between Republican Rep. Mia Love and Democratic Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams in the state's 4th Congressional District.

Trump is expected to hold at least eight rallies and 16 fundraisers in as many as 15 states in support of Republican candidates, according to a person familiar with the president's thinking who spoke to reporters Tuesday, including the Deseret News.

FILE - President Donald Trump speaks to the media as he steps off Air Force One, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, in Charleston, W.Va.

Alex Brandon, Associated Press

FILE - President Donald Trump speaks to the media as he steps off Air Force One, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, in Charleston, W.Va.

That person said those states could include North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Kentucky and Tennessee.

"The president is his party's best political asset to raise money, unify the base, drive turnout and pass the policies that Americans voted for in 2016. He's prepared to do all he's able to do to help elect more partners this fall," the person said.

While other states are likely to be added to Trump's campaign itinerary, Love's campaign manager, Dave Hansen, said he hasn't heard anything from the White House.

"You never know who's going to come into the state, so you basically plan your campaign without them. That's what we've done," Hansen said, hedging about how helpful a presidential campaign stop in Utah would be.

"Sometimes it helps and sometimes it doesn't," he said, describing the decision about a visit as up to the administration. "Have we asked them? No. We haven't discouraged them, either."

Utah may not be part of the president's itinerary because the race isn't that close, Hansen said, describing Love's campaign as in "very good shape. She has a great record. Maybe they don't think they could add to that."

Love is the only member of Utah's all-Republican congressional delegation to face a tough re-election challenge. Her bid for a third term has been labeled a toss-up by RealClear Politics and polling has suggested the race is too close to call.

McAdams' campaign manager, Andrew Roberts, jumped at the opportunity to link Love and Trump, who recorded his lowest margin of victory in strongly Republican Utah in 2016, with just over 45 percent of the vote.

"Is President Trump avoiding Utah because he doesn't endorse Rep. Love or because she thinks his visit will hurt her?" Roberts asked. "As hard as she may pretend otherwise, Trump's agenda is Love's agenda."

Hansen said there's no question that Trump backs Love.

"It's obvious he supports Mia Love for re-election. He's the Republican president. She's the Republican candidate. They have gotten along well even when they've disagreed on things," Hansen said. "She has a great deal of respect for him."

Love agrees with the president on tax cuts, appointments to the federal bench including the U.S. Supreme Court and reducing the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah, he said.

Their biggest area of disagreement is over Trump's trade policies, Hansen said, and Love has criticized derogatory comments the president made about Haiti, where her parents are from, and other countries.

Love may share a political affiliation with Trump, but McAdams has worked for former President Bill Clinton and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Hansen said.

"There's a whole lot of difference," he said. "I don't think the majority of people in this state would prefer to have Hillary Clinton as president rather than Donald Trump."