On May 12, 2016, Senator Orrin Hatch (Republican, Utah) threw his support behind Donald Trump for President of the United States. It was not a casual endorsement. In his own words, “I totally endorse him.” On June 7, 2016, Hatch went even further to describe himself as an “increasingly enthusiastic Trump supporter” and invited Americans to “Be nice to [Trump], he’s a poor first-time candidate.” He also stated that “My experience with Donald Trump is he doesn’t have a prejudiced bone in his body.” Finally, when Trump made racist remarks about U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel’s capacities to function competently on the bench because of his “Mexican heritage”, Hatch provided advice for the presidential nominee by recommending that Trump “tone it down a bit” there is no need to make “outrageous statements” and use divisive language. In retrospect, June 7 was a bad day for Senator Hatch. Nevertheless, it is his prerogative to endorse and defend Donald Trump. But I suggest that the time has come to withdraw that “enthusiastic” support.
Why? Trump has gone too far—way too far to deserve Hatch’s endorsement, enthusiastic or otherwise. When Trump mocked and minimalized the moving speech of Khizr and Ghazala Khan and their family’s ultimate sacrifice for our nation he laid a weighty straw on an already exhausted camel’s back and it broke. The Khan’s are parents of Hamayun Khan, a recipient of the Bronze Star and Purple Heart awarded posthumously. He gave his life serving this country in battle. He was a student at the University of Virginia looking forward to attending law school and practicing law. And Trump talked down his nose at his parents? No wonder ranking members of the Republican leadership quickly distanced themselves from Trump at this affront. Now, it is Hatch’s turn.
Finally, I hold Senator Hatch to a higher bar. Let me explain. In December 2009, a proposal was made to build a mosque in lower Manhattan near Ground Zero (about two blocks away). A firestorm debate erupted among Americans. Some argued that a mosque that close to that hallowed ground was offensive, unthinkable, and would spawn cells of radical Islam. Others argued that Manhattan Muslims had every right to build there because religious freedom, religious pluralism, and religious tolerance are hallmarks of American society and no manner of attack could strip those priceless values from our national ethic. Many prominent Americans opposed the mosque. Mitt Romney was one of them. I was disappointed in him. Many prominent Americans supported the mosque. Orrin Hatch was among them. I applauded him.
His support of the mosque was not altogether surprising. After all, Hatch and Senator Ted Kennedy sponsored legislation that was passed into law stating that a building project could not be rejected based solely upon religious reasons (The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000). This legislation was crafted, in part, as a response to opposition to the construction of a Mormon temple in Kennedy’s home state of Massachusetts (announced construction by Gordon B. Hinckley, April, 1998).
Now, the tables have turned. Romney ferociously called out Trump as unfit for office and laid out a case for his claims. Trump’s thoughtful response? You are a “Loser!” Romney’s stand was bold and timely. I applaud him for speaking out. Senator Hatch, it is now time for you to stand with Romney and other prominent Republicans in your party and separate yourself from Donald Trump. Can you really “enthusiastically support” this man now? I think not.
Sources include: New York Times, Salt Lake Tribune, Reuters, Fox News, CNN, ABC News