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Find KUER's reporting on the races, candidates and more for Utah’s 2018 midterm elections. Click here for our graphics of the U.S. Senate race, 4 Congressional races and Utah ballot initiatives.

Mia Love Lashes Trump, GOP In First Post-Election Appearance

Photo of Mia Love at podium.
Julia Ritchey / KUER
Mia Love spoke at the GOP headquarters Monday, her first public appearance after losing the midterm election.

In her first public appearance since losing the 4th Congressional District race, Republican Rep. Mia Love took digs at President Trump, the GOP and her opponent, and said her loss means she is now “untethered” and “unshackled” to speak her mind.

“When President Trump took a jab at me because he thought that the race was over — and he lamented that I wouldn’t ask him to come to the state of Utah — I was somewhat surprised at first,” she said of Trump’s comments on Nov. 7 mocking Love and other GOP House candidates for losing.

“This gave me a clear vision of his world as it is: No real relationships, just convenient transactions,” said Love.

Love’s press conference Monday at the Utah GOP’s headquarters comes at the end of a brutal campaign that saw the two-term incumbent lose by fewer than 700 votes to Democratic Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams.

Love said she called McAdams to concede over the weekend and “wish him well.” But the GOP congresswoman expressed few regrets about the campaign and said she was especially proud to have fought for the release of Joshua Holt, the Utah man imprisoned in Venezuela for two years.

“I am proud of the fact that I nagged the president everyday to bring Joshua Holt home,” she said. “He is an American, and all Americans should know that their country and their representatives will not forget or abandoned them.”

Love was joined by her family and a few supporters at the Monday press conference, where she also criticized the Republican Party for failing to court minority voters and allowing Democrats to make them feel like those voters have a “home.”

“I’ve seen the cost to conservatives for not truly taking people into their hearts,” she said. “Democrats saw newly elected black members and women to Congress in this election. This is a matter of fact — that Republicans lost in this regard.”

Love is the first black female Republican to serve in Congress. Asked whether she would run again in 2020, Love was noncommittal.

“I don’t know, we’ll have to see,” she said.

Describing the election as “horrible,” Love also lashed out at the media and the McAdams campaign for what she called “uneducated, unfair, irresponsible stories” about her ethics and record.

“I believe that we’ve elected a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” she said of McAdams. “But the question remains at what cost to the people of Utah?”

In a statement, McAdams’ campaign manager Andrew Roberts did not respond directly to Love’s comments, but said he wishes Love all the best.

“It is time to put the election behind us. Ben is focused on getting to work finding bipartisan solutions for Utah families,” said Roberts.

Love said come January, she will continue to fight for and promote conservative principles and values, regardless of her position.

“Best of all, I don’t need a title or permission to do that,” Love said.

Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
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