Hillary Clinton is a powerful religious freedom advocate and a defender of vulnerable communities, according to Hillary Clinton. The Democratic presidential nominee explores what she has to offer to Mormon voters, including support for all minority faiths, in a op-ed published in the Deseret News.
"Americans don't have to agree on everything. We never have. But when it comes to religion, we strive to be accepting of everyone around us. That's because we need each other. And we know that it so often takes a village — or a ward — working together to build the change we hope to see," Clinton writes after decrying Trump's call for a ban on Muslim immigrants.
As media outlets like The New York Times and Slate have reported, Trump has a Mormon problem. Many members of the religious group worry about his hostility toward immigrants, his concerns about American Muslims, his multiple marriages and his bombastic approach to politics.
"The issue of religious liberty is an important one in (Utah,) and the notion of a religious test for immigration raises deep concerns," said Chris Karpowitz, director of Brigham Young University's Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy, to the Times. "Mormons are sensitive to issues like this because of their own history."
The Clinton campaign sees an opening in a state that hasn't gone blue since 1964. Many initial reactions to Clinton's op-ed were positive.
"You guys this Hillary op-ed is really good," tweeted By Common Consent, a Mormon blog.
"Mormons really are not used to having presidential candidates invoke their distinctive culture/history/language to court their vote," noted McKay Coppins, senior political writer for BuzzFeed News and a member of the LDS Church.
The Juvenile Instructor, another Mormon blog, published a post of the many references to Mormon culture included in Clinton's op-ed.
"Her editorial goes beyond broad references to issues Mormons care about. It includes several references to Mormon history, quotes or references at least eight Mormons, including (quite notably, I think) Primary General President 'Sister Rosemary M. Wixom,' and speaks in common Mormon idiom," the post noted.
However, a Clinton victory in Utah won't be easy to secure.
Mormons are the most strongly Republican group of all religious groups, according to Pew Research Center. Seven in 10 members of the church identify as a Republican or lean Republican, compared to 19 percent who identify as a Democrat or lean Democrat, a 51 percentage point gap.
"Republicans at this point are a little unhappy with Trump, but they're going to vote for him," said James Evans, chairman of Utah's Republican Party to the Times.
Although early polls put Clinton within a few percentage points of Trump in Utah, a new one out this week shows the Republican nominee with a comfortable lead. Thirty-seven percent of Utah voters said they would vote for Trump, compared to 25 percent who support Clinton and 16 percent who support Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate.
The Trump campaign might need to be more concerned with Johnson's ability to attract unsatisfied Republicans than Clinton's appeal to Mormons, The New York Times reported.
"The Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is aggressively wooing disenchanted Republicans, and on Monday word came that Evan McMullin, a Mormon who is a former CIA official opposed to Trump, was entering the race," the article noted.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @kelsey_dallas