Utahns responded Friday to the announcement that President Barack Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Dave Hansen, chairman of the Utah Republican Party: "I'm surprised, of course. At first, I thought the BCS (the college football-championship group) had taken over the Nobel Peace Prize. Seriously, we congratulate the president. But considering that the nominations had to be in by Feb. 1, I didn't realize he had done that much in his first 11 days in office to warrant that. Maybe at some point in the future, he'll deserve it. But now, it is a little premature."
Todd Taylor, executive director of the Utah Democratic Party: "What (Utahns) need to take from it is hope and aspirations matter, that America has a unique role in the world, and Obama, in his outreach, doing things like appointing Jon Huntsman ambassador to China, has the ability to bring people together. Even Utahns." He said national GOP criticism of the award "explains why they're not in a position to lead right now."
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah: "He has not done anything yet; the world is not a safer place... What can you point to seriously that the president has actually accomplished...? I can't think of anything."
Asked if we all shouldn't be proud that an American won it, Chaffetz said: "Who cares? What does it matter? Maybe Jay Leno should win because he's been more civil than David Letterman."
University of Utah political science professor Matthew Burbank: "Obviously, the peace prize has always been the most political of these, and the committee has always used that to send messages. It's a little odd to do it with someone who's so new in office. The timing is surprising more than anything. My interpretation of that message is simply, in many ways what this is doing is saying in essence, 'We're so happy you're not George Bush' … I think it's a political statement. Clearly, it's not pointing to concrete accomplishments."
Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon: "I think it's a great honor for the president and the United States. I agree with what President Obama said about a recognition of America's new leadership in international affairs … and I'm proud that he has already made great strides toward positive change."
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah: "Whenever an American receives an important international honor, it reflects positively not only on the achievements of that individual but also on our nation as a whole. So I am very pleased that President Obama has been honored with the Nobel Peace Prize, and I commend him for it."
Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah: "I want to congratulate President Obama on receiving this great honor. This award is a statement from the international community on the value of America's involvement on the global stage in working towards increased democracy and human rights."
Gov. Gary Herbert: "I extend congratulations today to President Barack Obama. While it is unusual for this award to go to a president at the beginning of his administration, this recognition illustrates the potential that the president of the United States has in fostering peace throughout the world and in America's important and significant responsibility to be a broker for peace and liberty."
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