SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Facing a tight re-election race in a district Democrats hope to flip, U.S. Rep. Mia Love tapped Mitt Romney and other boldface Republican names at a rally Friday.
"We've got to make sure the Democrats don't get their hands on this seat," Sen. Mike Lee said. "We need Mia Love to get re-elected. We need her very, very badly."
She's being challenged by Democratic Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, a moderate who is well-known in the politically mixed suburbs that make up a large portion of the district and attacks Love as a "no show." Both candidates have about the same amount of cash in the bank, about $1.25 million.
Love, the first black female Republican in Congress, highlighted conservative issues like abortion and her work helping to secure the release of Josh Holt, a Utah man who spent nearly two years in a Venezuelan jail.
"If your children are ever in trouble, stuck in another country, I have your back," she told a group of about 150 supporters.
Romney said keeping Love in Washington would "keep things happening in Utah for the future."
The former Massachusetts governor is running for U.S. Senate in Utah, where he's well known for being the first Mormon presidential candidate for a major party and his role organizing the 2002 Winter Olympics. He's the heavy favorite in the race to replace retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch.
His popularity in Utah could help bolster Love, who won the seat from a retiring Democrat in 2014.
U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop urged supporters to help keep the state's congressional delegation all-Republican so they could share information from their respective committees. "We need her, we need her data, we need her help," he said.
One topic speakers stayed away from was President Donald Trump, a figure who many in Utah are ambivalent about.
Though the state is conservative and Trump ultimately won there in 2016, many voters are uncomfortable with his bombastic style and his comments on women and immigrants. Love has distanced herself from Trump policies on trade and slammed an expletive he used to describe her parents' home country of Haiti.
Trump is planning to spend a month on the campaign trail this fall helping boost GOP candidates. But Utah isn't on his list.
Romney, meanwhile, was one of Trump's highest-profile critics in 2016. Though the relationship is largely patched up now, Romney has said he'd continue to speak up on substantial matters.
Love supporter Bob Krejci, 74, said he doesn't always agree with everything the president does, but he has been turned off by Democrats' negative response to his agenda. "I don't want them to get control, if we can avoid it," he said.