This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated.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.
Former President Bill Clinton arrived in Utah to headline a big-ticket fundraiser Thursday for his wife, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, as their party tries to capitalize on Republican disdain for Donald Trump and put one of the reddest states in the nation in play this election.
Clinton appeared at the fundraiser at the home of Barry and Amy Baker in a gated community outside of Park City. Barry Baker is the former president of USA Networks who runs a major investment fund; Amy Baker spent two decades with NBC News.
A year ago, Hillary Clinton attended a fundraiser at the same home, estimated to be worth $6.5 million. Attendees at the event, hosted by the Bakers and former Utah Democratic Party Chairman Donald Dunn, paid between $250 for an individual ticket up to $33,000 for major donors who got to attend a VIP reception.
The former president arrived Thursday in a motorcade with four SUVs and a police escort, rolling past reporters who were kept about a half-mile down the mountain from the Bakers' residence.
Bill Clinton stood on the porch of the home and addressed a crowd of about 150 people.
Democratic strategist Jim Gonzales called it "classic Bill Clinton," hitting on many of the same themes that Hillary Clinton did a day earlier in an opinion piece targeting Utah Mormons.
He was "relating how important the values that Hillary and her administration had and could be shared with Utah in many ways," Gonzales said. "He also talked about contrasting her message of hope and optimism with Trump's message of fear and closing in."
"And he talked about that from both a philosophical level but also on a socioeconomic basis, the idea of closing down and going back to 50 years ago," Gonzales said. "And if you think back to 50 years ago, how good was it for women in the workplace? How good was it for African-Americans? How good was it for civil rights? How good was it for gays in the closet?"
Among those who attended the fundraiser was former Republican Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, who recently was cleared of a series of corruption charges.
From the Park City event, Clinton's motorcade went to downtown Salt Lake City, where he participated in a roundtable discussion with about 10 local business leaders, many of them Republicans.
Many of the Republicans in the room, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams said, "expressed concern about partisanship at the national level and what we could do to take some of the rancor out of the political dialogue."
McAdams, who worked in the Clinton White House, said the former president agreed and hoped people could come together and stop being driven apart by politicians.
The group discussed an incident during Clinton's presidency in which Mormon missionaries were taken hostage in South America, McAdams said, "and talked about how sad it is to live in a world where religious freedom and religion [are] used as a wedge, and we need to come together regardless of belief and background."
A small crowd gathered outside the building, waiting for Clinton to leave the meeting.
Geert and Ilke Cochez were visiting from Belgium and stumbled on the crowd, waiting with their children for a glimpse of the former president.
"We're quite curious to know what the outcome [of the election] will be in November, because it's important for Europe as well," said Ilke Cochez.
As Clinton headed to his motorcade, he stopped to shake hands with the cluster of admirers who surged to meet him.
One young man shouted that Clinton was a war criminal for bombings in Sarajevo during his administration.
Republican National Committee spokeswoman Natalie Strom said the Clintons are using Utah as an ATM.
"Bill Clinton parachutes into town today as Hillary Clinton touts a third term of Barack Obama's failed economic policies in Michigan," Strom said. "He will be hard-pressed to defend Hillary's flawed vision of massive tax hikes, more Obamacare and $2 trillion in new spending to Utah voters."
Utah Republican Party Chairman James Evans was more pointed, saying via Twitter, "was a Predator Alert issued since Bill Clinton is in UT?"
Bill Clinton left the state Thursday evening.
Meanwhile, Trump told a group of evangelical pastors in Orlando, Fla., on Thursday: "I have a tremendous problem in Utah," according to multiple news reports. He urged the evangelicals to "get your people out to vote."
In Utah, a lone protester, David Novak, stood along the road, holding a sign that read "Political Correctness Equals Political Corruption." Novak said he has been a Trump supporter since the business tycoon was flirting with running in 2012.
Novak compares Trump to World War II Gen. George Patton, saying the Republican candidate will get the job done and doesn't tolerate excuses. The choice this election, Novak said, is between change and the " 'same ol', same ol'." Change can make voters uncomfortable, he said, but he expects Utahns will come around to Trump.
Hillary Clinton trails Trump by 12 points, 37 percent to 25 percent, in the state, according to the latest UtahPolicy.com poll.
Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson gets 16 percent in that tally.
But Trump has found it difficult to get traction in a state that Mitt Romney won with 73 percent of the vote in 2012, a state that has not gone to a Democrat since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.
A June poll by SurveyUSA commissioned by the The Salt Lake Tribune and Hinckley Institute of Politics showed Utahns were divided on Trump and Clinton, with each supported by 35 percent of likely voters.