Republican Utah Senator Mike Lee has not endorsed Donald Trump for president, but he has invited Trump’s running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence to speak at his 3rd annual Utah Solutions Summit in Salt Lake City Thursday. Utah Democrats criticized Lee’s decision, saying it gives the appearance that Lee supports the Republican presidential nominee.
The Utah Solutions Summit this year will address challenges dealing with the state’s growing workforce. Senator Mike Lee, who is hosting the summit, invited former Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina and Governor Mike Pence to discuss solutions. State Democratic Party Chair Peter Corroon says Lee won’t find the answers in Donald Trump’s vice presidential pick.
“Of course we are told it’s not an official campaign appearance, but when you bring Donald Trump’s running mate to our state and espouse his ideas as beneficial to our people you are supporting ideals that Donald trump supports,” Corroon says.
As governor of Indiana, Corroon says Pence has alienated businesses, divided communities and signed legislation that allows businesses in the state to refuse service to LGBT people on religious grounds. Trump, he says is equally divisive.
Conn Carroll is a spokesman for Senator Lee. He confirmed it’s not a campaign appearance and says Lee first reached out to former Indiana Governor and Purdue University President Mitch Daniels to speak, but there was a scheduling conflict.
“He has not endorsed Donald Trump and he has no plans to,” Carroll says. “But that has nothing to do with what is going on tomorrow. Governor Pence is going to be here in his capacity as governor talking about higher education reform and what he has done in Indiana.”
The Utah GOP released a joint statement Tuesday in support of the Trump/Pence ticket. This list of supporters did not include Congresswoman Mia Love or Senator Mike Lee.