facebook-pixel

Former Utah congresswoman’s new role could put her in middle of ‘anybody but Trump’ fight

Presidential campaign • Enid Mickelsen, who has made it clear she is not a fan of Donald Trump, says her role as head of the rules committee is to be fair.

Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune "You will stop interrupting this body," said Enid Greene Mickelsen, trying to restore order at the Utah Republican Party's convention with those who wished to change the agenda. The Utah Republican Party held its annual convention, primarily to adopt changes to their constitution and bylaws to comply with the SB54 (Count My Vote) law for the 2016 election, Saturday, August 15, 2015.

Former congresswoman and Utah Republican National Committee member Enid Mickelsen will lead the rules committee for the Republican National Convention, a post that will put her in the middle of any last-ditch attempt to deny Donald Trump the presidential nomination.

A few dozen renegade delegates want to change the convention rules to allow them to support any candidate they choose, instead of being bound by the results of primaries or caucuses in their states. The effort comes at a time when the presumptive nominee is struggling in polls and has faced a series of controversies over his comments, including racist remarks toward a federal judge who is of Latino descent and a call to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country.

"This literally is an 'Anybody but Trump' movement," Kendal Unruh, a delegate from Colorado, told The Washington Post. "Nobody has any idea who is going to step in and be the nominee, but we're not worried about that. We're just doing that job to make sure that he's not the face of our party."

Mickelsen said such a move has failed in the past, though she wouldn't prejudge the outcome in this unusual election year.

"There are some perennial issues that always come up; this is one of them," she said. "My role as chairman is to stay impartial for all of it."

Still, Mickelsen hasn't exactly showered praise on Trump, who came in third in Utah's caucus and is tied with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the latest Salt Lake Tribune-Hinckley Institute of Politics poll.

Just a few weeks ago, Mickelsen told The Tribune: "Neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump are going to be people that we point our children toward and say, 'I want you to be just like them when you grow up.' That's not the case in this race, and that's a shame."

On Friday, she urged Republicans to rally around the party's eventual nominee. "I haven't always agreed with the tone and the rhetoric in the campaign, but, as far as I'm concerned, the stakes are too high. Now is our time to come together and unify. I'm hoping in that process a lot of different voices are heard and respected."

The rules committee meets in Cleveland a week before the mid-July convention. It has two representatives from each state, one man and one woman. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus named Mickelsen the chairwoman. Utah's two representatives are Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and his wife, Sharon.

Beyond the "Anybody but Trump" fight, the committee will set rules for how the party will pick its leaders, how it will elect its next presidential nominee in 2020 and how many delegates are awarded to each state.

Mickelsen said her job is to guide the conversation and ensure that the ultimate decision is a fair one.

mcanham@sltrib.com

Twitter: @mattcanham

Return to Story