LEHI — Congressional candidate Mia Love filled a Thanksgiving Point stage at a rally Wednesday with local, state and national GOP leaders, including former presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
"Change is coming in a real way, and I'm so happy to be here with Mia Love," Romney told a crowd of about 600 gathered in a barn-like center. "She's going to be a great congresswoman. Her voice is going to be a loud voice."
As the crowd cheered, the two-time contender for the White House said, "We're going to win this time. We're going to win."
Romney, one of the most popular politicians in Utah, was greeted with chants of "Mitt, Mitt, Mitt."
When Romney introduced Love, they switched to "Mia, Mia, Mia."
Love described how in the story of David and Goliath, David ran toward a challenge and pledged to do the same against "the Goliaths" in Washington, including out of control spending, Obamacare and "the Godzilla that we call the federal government."
The 4th District, she said, is "on the front lines, and it's time for us to run toward the challenges of our day. Will you run with me?" Love said. "Together we will ensure that our American dream rolls on."
After the half-hour event, Love said, "It feels good. I mean, this is what it's about, right? It's about representing Utah values, Utah principles to the nation. I'm really honored."
Earlier Wednesday, Love's Democratic opponent Doug Owens launched a trio of new television commercials criticizing her "extreme views on education" and "tea party ideology" as hurting Utah families.
One commercial features video of Love saying during her 2012 campaign that she would "love to get rid of the Department of Education," and the other refers to statements she has made about doing away with student loans.
The commercials are the toughest so far in the race. Owens, who was endorsed Tuesday by the Utah Education Association and other education groups, said the new ads were not timed to Romney's appearance.
"Education is key to Utah's future and is a defining issue in this race," Owens said. "These ads, which highlight my common sense, Utah-based approach to improving education, have always been part of our media strategy."
Asked about her stands on doing away with the Department of Education, Love told reporters she was "not going to go into anything negative. This is a positive night." She said Utahns hate negative campaigning, calling it "D.C. politics as usual."
Before the rally, Love raised about $100,000 from a fundraiser featuring Romney. Tickets were $250 each, and participants could join a roundtable discussion with Romney by bringing in $5,000 in contributions.
Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, who along with Gov. Gary Herbert and other officials spent time with Romney backstage, said the 2008 and 2012 White House candidate was asked repeatedly to run a third time.
Cox said his answer was the usual "no," but he still hopes Romney runs again.
"I would love to see him make another run in 2016. I just think he's what this country needs. I think that's been proven in spades," the lieutenant governor said, suggesting Romney's wife, Ann, and son, Josh, could both end up in politics.
Cox said Romney, who recently sold a home in Boston and is expected to make Utah his home, was welcomed to Utah.
"It's nice to have him as one of the newest residents of our state," he said.
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