Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton made a direct pitch to Utah voters in a Deseret News op-ed published Wednesday, trying to drive a wedge between the state's traditional preference for Republicans and the Mormon community by tying its history of being persecuted to Donald Trump's proposed "Muslim ban".
Trump's Muslim ban would undo centuries of American tradition and values. To this day, I wonder if he even understands the implications of his proposal. This policy would literally undo what made America great in the first place. But you don't have to take it from me. Listen to Mitt Romney, who said Trump "fired before aiming" when he decided a blanket religious ban was a solution to the threat of terrorism. Listen to former Sen. Larry Pressler, who said Trump's plan reminded him of when Missouri Gov. Lilburn Boggs singled out Mormons in his infamous extermination order of 1838. Or listen to your governor, who saw Trump's statement as a reminder of President Rutherford B. Hayes' attempt to limit Mormon immigration to America in 1879.
Romney, Pressler (of South Dakota), and Utah governor Gary Herbert all practice Mormonism. Another prominent Mormon politician, Utah senator Mike Lee, also cited the Missouri example in a June interview with Newsmax. "We can go through the fact that he has made some statements that some have identified correctly as religiously intolerant," Lee said. "We can get into the fact that he is so unpopular because my state consists of members who were a religious minority church—a people who were ordered exterminated by the governor of Missouri in 1839, and statements like that make them nervous."
Trump first called for an indefinite "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States" in December. He said after the Orlando nightclub shooting in June, which was carried about by New York-born Omar Mateen, that the restriction should encompass immigrants from areas of the world with a history of terrorism. He hewed closer to that line than his original wording during his Republican National Convention speech last month, saying the United States "must immediately suspend immigration from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism until such time it's proven that vetting mechanisms have been put in place."
According to multiple estimates, about 60 percent of Utahans identify as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Trump lost the state by a wide margin during primary season, garnering only 14 percent of the vote to Ted Cruz's 69 percent in the Republican caucus there. Two general election polls of Utah in the last two months that included third-party challengers Gary Johnson and Jill Stein showed Trump leading by about 10 points, though he failed to break 40 percent in either.
The Deseret News said it asked all the major presidential candidates to write in their pages.