SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said he’ll vote for Donald Trump but he doesn’t want to persuade his fellow Republicans to do the same.
Herbert, a Republican running for re-election in a conservative state that’s been reluctant to back Trump, said at a news conference Wednesday that he’s not an advocate or an apologist for anybody.
“You know how I’m going to vote. I don’t need to talk about this anymore,” Herbert said. “I’m focused on my own election.”
Late last month, some of Utah’s top Republicans added their names to a party statement supporting Trump, but Herbert did not sign the letter.
Other prominent Republicans, like Rep. Mia Love and Sen. Mike Lee, were also missing from the statement, but neither has said they’ll vote for Trump.
Herbert says he supports Trump’s running mate Mike Pence. He appeared with the Indiana governor at an event in Salt Lake City last week while Pence tried to bolster support and fundraising for Trump in Utah.
Other Utah Republicans, including Herbert’s running mate Spencer Cox, have declined to line up behind the party’s nominee, saying Trump doesn’t represent them or their values.
Many of the state’s residents and GOP voters are Mormon, preferring cordial politicians instead of brash personality and positions like a proposal to temporarily bar foreign Muslims from the United States.
Trump has acknowledged the lukewarm reception in the deep-red state, saying he’s “having a tremendous problem in Utah.”
Herbert, speaking at a news conference on KUED-TV Wednesday, said voters have issues with both Hillary Clinton and Trump and they face a difficult decision this year.
He said he wishes voters well as they try to pick who they’ll vote for but said, “I don’t need to get involved in that issue of being a pundit about this thing.”
Earlier this year, Herbert endorsed Ted Cruz before the Texas senator dropped out. He endorsed Mitt Romney for president in 2012.