In response to Steve Bannon attacking Mitt Romney for being unpatriotic and lacking “honor and integrity,” Utah Senators Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch, as well as Governor Gary Herbert, responded with statements condemning the former White House chief strategist’s comments.
The former Massachusetts governor, who was born in Michigan but attended college in Utah and currently lives in the state, was slammed by Bannon for hiding “behind his faith” to get out of fighting Vietnam — as Romney was on a Mormon mission trip during the war.
“You went to France to be a missionary while guys were dying in rice paddies in Vietnam,” said the Breitbart News executive chairman — later attacking Romney’s sons for not fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. Bannon made these comments at a campaign rally for alleged child molester and GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore, who Romney has declared entirely unfit for office.
In response to these low blows — and ironic ones, as Bannon’s ally President Donald Trump avoided Vietnam due to a “bone spur” — Hatch called them “disappointing and unjustified.”
“Mitt is a close personal friend, an honest leader, a great American, and someone who has sought every opportunity possible to serve our country,” said the senior Utah senator in a statement today.
Adding, “I also resent anyone attacking any persons religious views, but particularly our own Christian LDS faith and the selfless service of missionary work… I’ve got a copy of the Book of Mormon with his name on it.”
Romney is rumored to be mulling a Utah Senate run once Hatch finishes out his current term and retires. If the 83-year-old lawmaker does decide not to run for reelection, the seat would be available in 2018.
Senator Lee tweeted the following in a response to Bannon:
“Mitt Romney is a good man. Whether you agree or disagree with him on any matter of public policy, you can’t credibly call into question his patriotism or moral character—especially on the basis of his religious beliefs or his outstanding service as a missionary.”
Additionally, Governor Herbert stood up for Romney by saying he and his family are “honorable people” who “represent the very best of Utah values.”
“Utahns reject the ugly politics and tactics of Steve K. Bannon. #stayout,” he added.
[image via screengrab]