Three Utah Republican lawmakers jumped to Mitt Romney’s defense on Wednesday after Steve Bannon accused Romney of hiding behind his religion to avoid in the Vietnam War.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) blasted Bannon for attacking Romney’s religion and missionary work and offered to discuss the LDS Church with the former White House advisor.
“Steve Bannon’s attacks on Governor Romney and his service are 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,” Hatch said in a statement. “I also resent anyone attacking any persons religious views, but particularly our own Christian LDS faith and the selfless service of missionary work. I’d be more than happy to sit down with Mr. Bannon and help him understand more about the LDS Church at his convenience. I’ve got a copy of the Book of Mormon with his name on it.”
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) also knocked Bannon for questioning Romney’s character, particularly on the basis of his religion.
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.
— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) December 6, 2017
Republican Utah Gov. Gary Herbert also chimed in, defending Romney and telling Bannon to stay out of Utah politics.
.@MittRomney and his family are honorable people and represent the very best of Utah values. Utahns reject the ugly politics and tactics of @SteveKBannon. #stayout #utpol
— Gov. Gary Herbert (@GovHerbert) December 6, 2017
During a rally for GOP Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore Tuesday night, Bannon attacked Romney for not serving in the Vietnam War.
“You hid behind your religion. You went to France to be a missionary while guys were dying in rice paddies in Vietnam. Do not talk to me about honor and integrity,” Bannon said.
He made the comment in response to a Monday tweet from Romney, who suggested the Republican Party is losing its “honor” and “integrity” by backing Moore, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by several women.
Bannon reportedly wants to keep Romney, who may run for Senate in Utah if Hatch retires, out of Congress. He has reportedly considered endorsing Hatch as part of a plan to fend off Romney, who is a vocal Trump critic.