SARATOGA SPRINGS — After gaining the backing of new vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan in June, Utah's Mia Love is bringing in another Republican star to boost her bid to unseat Rep. Jim Matheson.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will visit Utah on Sept. 7 to stump for her, the Saratoga Springs mayor said Monday. The tentative plan is for a "large" public event and a fundraiser, according to the campaign.
Rice would be the third prominent Republican to visit Utah for Love, with U.S. House Speaker John Boehner set for a fundraiser Wednesday and Sen. John McCain to appear at town hall meeting Thursday.
The big GOP guns don't faze the six-term Matheson.
"These are people just doing their duty to the party. But I actually think it creates a nice contrast. My opponent is all about national party stuff. I'm about putting Utah first," he said.
Matheson said he has no plans to bring in any big names himself. "I usually do things on my own," he said.
Ultimately, all the national names and national interest isn't what decides elections. It's Utah voters who decide, Matheson said.
"I feel like when it comes to the issues of the day and what Utahns care about, that's what my campaign is focused on. There's a real difference between the two of us in this race," Matheson said. "I'm very confident I'm right in step with what Utahns are looking for."
Love said the purpose for the GOP visits is to raise money for TV time to help in her battle against Matheson.
"We want to make sure that everyone knows who I am and what we've been able to do in Saratoga Springs, so we're going to get on TV, and we need as much help as possible to do that," Love said. "That's why fundraising is so important. We have to be able to get the message out."
Love matched Matheson in fundraising in the last quarter, but the incumbent still has $1 million more in the bank. Love has said she expects to raise more than Matheson over the next quarter.
Matheson doubts she can make up the million-dollar gap.
"I'm confident that throughout this election I'm going to have a cash advantage over my opponent, and I'm real aggressive about that," he said.
In June, Rice held her first Washington, D.C., fundraiser for ShePAC, a super PAC designed to help elect conservative women across the country. Love was one of the first candidates to earn ShePAC's endorsement.
"I think that super PACs will try and play a part, but I think Utah will be very smart in making sure that they're independent thinkers," Love said.
Love would become the first black Republican woman in Congress should she win in November.
Along with the support from Boehner and McCain, Love was endorsed by Ann Romney, the wife of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Love has also gained national attention with appearances on Today, MSNBC, CNN and Fox News to being a featured speaker at the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference.
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