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Washington • Hoping to capitalize on the LDS faithful's hesitance to back GOP nominee Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton's campaign has launched a "Mormons for Hillary" group that will seek to persuade friends and family to support the Democratic candidate.
The Clinton campaign announced Tuesday nearly 120 founding members including some lifelong Republicans who say the former secretary of state understands religious freedom and treating faith groups with respect.
"In 2016, the Republican Party's candidate for president my party is belittling and scapegoating people of other religious and ethnic minorities in the harshest language," said David Irvine, a retired Army brigadier general and former chairman of the Davis County Republican Party. "His disdain for them is equaled only by his disdain and crudity toward women. The most enduring pioneer value is charity in its broadest sense, and Utahns looking for those kinds of values should be reading [Clinton's book] 'It Takes a Village' and voting for Hillary Clinton."
While Trump continues to top recent polls in Utah a state that hasn't gone for a Democratic presidential hopeful since 1964 Clinton's team has opened an office in the state and sent surrogates to whip up support. Trump has acknowledged a "tremendous problem in Utah," particularly with Mormons who dominate the state's voter rolls.
Trump's one-time announcement that he would ban any Muslims from entering the country and his questioning the devoutness of Mormon luminary Mitt Romney have caused some wariness among LDS adherents.
Clinton previously wrote an op-ed for the Deseret News, owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, attempting to woo Mormon supporters. Trump also submitted a piece with the same goal.
A Facebook page called "Mormons4Trump" has earned nearly 21,000 likes and includes daily posts and commentary with its supporters. The "Mormons for Hillary" page has nearly 600 likes.
Crystal Young-Otterstrom, chairwoman of the LDS Democrats caucus, said Clinton's policies align more with Mormon beliefs than Trump's.
"Helping one another and strengthening families are core Mormon beliefs," Young-Otterstrom said. "I support Hillary Clinton because of her pro-family positions such as parental leave, supporting schools and teachers, making early childhood education accessible to all children, cleaning our air, and paying a living wage."
Utah's Trump supporters have said Mormons are turning to the Republican candidate because of his success in business, his family and his decisiveness.
"We are not electing a pastor and we are not electing a minister. We are electing the president," Don Peay, founder of a group known as Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, said previously. "The world is a pretty tough place. We need a tough guy in the White House."