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Four members of Utah's congressional delegation came to Mia Love's defense Wednesday, accusing her Democratic opponent of negative campaigning for ads focusing on education and Social Security.

Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee and Reps. Rob Bishop and Chris Stewart, all Republicans, appeared at party headquarters to offer a counterpoint to Democratic efforts to paint Love as evasive and extreme.

"Candidates ought to campaign on what they are for and what is good about them," said Hatch. "And frankly, they shouldn't be distorting the person's record or the person's philosophy."

Doug Owens, the Democratic candidate in Utah's 4th Congressional District, has run a series of ads where he portrays himself as the moderate choice, while arguing that Love wants to privatize Social Security or at least raise the retirement age, eliminate the Department of Education and end federal subsidies for student loans.

Love has either said those things on video or has included those ideas in campaign mailers. On the education issues, she walked back her call to eliminate the department and has refused to say whether she still believes the federal government should play no role in student loans.

The Republican members of Congress said the way Owens has used those claims insinuates Love wants to ruin Social Security or is anti-education.

"The implication drawn from it is inaccurate," said Bishop, noting Love wants local control for education, which is something she has also said repeatedly on the campaign trail

Hatch said Owens was following the national Democratic playbook.

"Whenever they think they are going to lose, they start saying Republicans are going to take away your Social Security. I don't know of one person in the whole doggone Congress who wants to hurt Social Security," he said. "We want to save it."

Owens responded to the news conference by saying he's contrasting his political views with that of his Republican opponent, saying "there's nothing personal about that."

"Claiming you are being attacked to avoid answering where you are on very significant issues that voters are entitled to know about is not good enough for Utah," he said. "Voters deserve straightforward answers to straightforward issue questions."

Love didn't appear at the news conference. The GOP members of Congress held the event in consultation with the state party and with the Love campaign.

Dave Hansen, Love's campaign manager, said she didn't want to distract from their message.