This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated.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.
Donald Trump, who last week acknowledged he had a "tremendous problem" in Utah, made a pitch to the state's voters Monday, reiterating his call for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, aggressive action against Islamic terrorists and reining in the federal government.
"The bottom line is that we can't afford a third Obama term, and that's what Hillary Clinton represents," Trump wrote in a guest column for the Deseret News. "Utahns know that after eight years adrift under President Obama, we need to make America great again by supporting our law enforcement, ending illegal immigration, defeating ISIS, bringing back jobs and restoring conservative values."
Trump's piece comes as he tries to solidify his support in a state that has not gone to a Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson in 1964, but is cool to Trump. Polls show he is leading, but not by margins Republicans traditionally enjoy in Utah.
Last week, Clinton made a straightforward appeal to Mormon voters in the LDS Church-owned News, targeting shared values with members of the state's predominant faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, while promising to fight for religious liberty and diversity.
Rather than including a direct plea to Mormons he doesn't even mention Latter-day Saints or their church by name Trump's column is more familiar, rattling off policy proposals he has espoused throughout the campaign. He does tout his support from Gov. Gary Herbert and Sen. Orrin Hatch.
Jason Perry, director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah, said Trump touched on messages that would resonate with Utahns.
He talked about appointing conservative Supreme Court justices, defending religious liberties, being the "pro-life" candidate and giving more control to the states.
"Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have tried to undermine our religious liberties at the altar of political correctness," Trump wrote. "They have challenged the right of businesses and religious institutions to speak about their faith. Undermining religious liberty has been a trend in the Democratic Party for decades."
Generally, Perry said, Trump cast his net more broadly, aiming at a more general audience instead of the more-targeted approach at Mormons that Clinton took.
"This [appeal] from Donald Trump seems aimed at the state in general," Perry said, "anyone with concerns about the … parade of horrors that could happen if you have another four to eight years of the Democrats in the White House."
It appears to be an acknowledgment, Perry said, that even if you don't like Trump, "the alternative is something that would be so bad for the United States or our economy that you shouldn't consider it."
Boyd Matheson, president of the Sutherland Institute, a conservative Salt Lake City-based think tank, was unimpressed with Trump's piece, dismissing it as too general.
"Honestly, I think he mailed it in," Matheson said. "To me, it appears to be much more of a cut and paste of one of his stump speeches, just kind of a weird hodgepodge of stuff, so I was a little surprised by that. Because in a state that has been getting a lot of attention lately about the race, you'd think he'd really want to put the hammer down in terms of connecting with Utah voters."
The worst thing for the Trump campaign, Matheson said, would be having to spend time, money and resources in a state such as Utah, trying to lock up electoral votes that should be safely in hand.
Matheson said Clinton's editorial was "much more thoughtful and focused on Utahns."
Trump also missed out on an opportunity to not make his entire message all about the candidate, something Matheson said doesn't sit well with Utahns.
"He just continues to completely miss the point on that," Matheson added. "He thinks if he can convince enough Utahns how awesome he is, that he's going to be just fine."
Last week, Trump told a group of evangelical leaders that he has a "tremendous problem in Utah," the frankest acknowledgment of what polls have shown for months that this red state could be in play come November.
A poll for UtahPolicy.com conducted by Dan Jones & Associates and released Monday shows that a plurality of Utahns 45 percent believe Clinton will win the White House. Barely a quarter (28 percent) say Trump will prevail.
This past weekend, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox became the highest-ranking Utah Republican to announce he would not vote for Trump unless the nominee made major changes in coming weeks.