This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
By the sound bite of it, Mike Lee won't be endorsing Donald Trump any time soon.
The Utah senator denounced the presumptive Republican presidential nominee during a fiery NewsmaxTV segment Wednesday after host Steve Malzberg grilled him on why he wasn't "trumpeting Trump."
"He accused my best friend's father of conspiring to kill JFK," a rankled Lee said, referring to his Senate colleague and former presidential candidate Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
In May, Trump had said that Cruz's father, Rafael, was with Lee Harvey Oswald before the assassin killed President John F. Kennedy.
Lee also mentioned Utah's apparent distaste for Trump, citing the businessman's "religiously intolerant comments," with which Mormons have taken issue.
"He's wildly unpopular in my state," Lee said, "in part because my state consists of people who are members of a religious minority church a people who were ordered exterminated by the governor of Missouri in 1838 and statements like that make them nervous."
Despite Trump's comments, Lee said, "these things are not something that I couldn't get over if I heard the right things out of him."
There is no doubt whom Utahns would prefer to see atop the GOP ticket this November, as they voted overwhelmingly for Cruz in March's Republican caucuses.
Utahns are no more excited about presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who was tied with Trump in a recent Salt Lake Tribune-Hinckley Institute of Politics poll. The poll was conducted between June 2 and June 8, the same time period in which Clinton likely clinched the Democratic nomination.
It is not clear what the first 100 days of a Trump administration would look like, Lee said Wednesday on the conservative outlet's talk show, which led the senator to question the candidate's goals, specifically in how they would pertain to "federalism and separation of powers."
Lee also is on the ballot this fall, and Utahns chose his opponent Tuesday. Democrat Misty K. Snow, the first transgender person to earn a major-party nomination for Senate, will go up against the incumbent in November.