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Rep. Mia Love described President-elect Donald Trump as "subpar" during the election and didn't vote for him, but called him "kind, gracious" after speaking on the phone with him Wednesday.
Love, R-Utah, wrote about the conversation on her Facebook page marking the first time she's directly said anything positive about the GOP president-elect. She had been critical of Trump throughout his campaign, at one point telling him to step down "for the good of the party," and said she wrote in Vice President-elect Mike Pence when she cast her ballot, a symbolic move. She was up for re-election at the time.
"I don't want a president who makes unilateral decisions," she said during the campaign, citing fear that Trump may try to impose his will on lawmakers.
Since the election, Love has expressed excitement about working with a GOP-controlled Congress but left out any direct reference to the incoming Republican president.
After the phone call Wednesday, Love wrote that Trump "wanted me to let Utah know that he loves us."
The feeling is not necessarily mutual. Trump won the state, but with only 46 percent of the vote far less support than previous Republican nominees have received in the reliably GOP stronghold. Love joined with several prominent elected and party leaders in the state among them 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Sen. Mike Lee and Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox who said they could not vote for Trump.
Trump visited Utah once during the primary election and called residents "incredible people" in an October interview with Fox News. But he also acknowledged having a "tremendous problem" in Utah, where polls at one point showed Trump in a virtual three-way tie with Democrat Hillary Clinton and independent Evan McMullin.
But now that the election dust has settled, Love says it's time to get on with governing.
"We both agreed that we have much to do in the weeks and months ahead," she continued in her Facebook post on Trump, "and that working together we can restore American exceptionalism at home and abroad."
Love did not respond to The Salt Lake Tribune's request for comment.
In addition to uttering her first praise for Trump, Love, in a separate recent Facebook post, issued her sharpest rebuke of President Barack Obama.
"I am beyond disappointed at Obama's behavior these last couple of weeks," she wrote Dec. 28. "Blaming, everyone including Trump for his failures. His childish rants and self-proclamations of grandeur included that he could have won if he ran again (which is ridiculous on so many levels). President Obama gave us 8 of the worst led years in American history highlighted by an array of restrictive and repressive policies, that have hurt hard working Americans the most."
She called designation of the Bears Ears National Monument in southern Utah and the Gold Butte monument in Nevada a "middle finger" to the West, adding Obama's "legacy as Divider in Chief is certain."
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