Utah's Mia Love to speak at Republican convention
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah congressional candidate Mia Love has been given a coveted speaking slot at the Republican National Convention, organizers announced Tuesday.
Love, a darling of tea-party and conservative Republicans, is characterized by her groundbreaking role in state politics. Utah's first black female mayor, she stands to become the first black Republican woman to take office in Congress if she topples Jim Matheson, a Democrat, in the November election.
Political analysts say it could be the toughest race for Matheson, a popular incumbent in his own right who has handily beat other Republican challengers for a dozen years.
The daughter of Haitian immigrants, Love will get her moment in the national spotlight among the first of Republican speakers next Tuesday evening, convention CEO William Harris announced.
Love, 36, said she was invited to speak by the campaign of GOP presumptive nominee Mitt Romney, a fellow Mormon.
"The speech is going to come from the heart," she said.
Love took office as a small-town mayor — she calls Saratoga Springs, population 18,000, a "booming" town — two years ago and quickly rose to prominence. She's been dubbed a rising GOP star with an unusual background and charisma.
A video will tell Love's life story before she gives a 3-minute speech emphasizing her politics of fiscal discipline, limited government and personal responsibility, said Utah Republican Chairman Thomas Wright, who is helping prepare her remarks.
"This is a natural fit for her. Her talking points are in line with Mitt Romney and (running mate) Paul Ryan. That's why they need her to speak, and they need her in Washington to move the agenda along," Wright said.
Love's speaking engagement is "a big deal" that shows the party is behind her, said Kirk Jowers of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics.
Jowers likened Love's potential opportunity to President Barack Obama's breakthrough Democratic convention speech in 2004.
Love has avoided missteps and doesn't have a political record to attack, he said.
"Mia Love comes with a clean slate," Jowers said. "She is easily Jim Matheson's toughest race, and the most unique one for him. He's been incredibly effective in past campaigns, but Mayor Love is a completely different challenger."
National Republicans and tea-party activists are helping fund her campaign. Love has nearly matched Matheson's fundraising pace since April, although Matheson has four times as much or about $1.2 million in the bank.
Arizona Sen. John McCain and House Speaker John Boehner made recent stops in Utah to help Love raise money, and she was endorsed by Romney's wife Ann in June. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice plans to give Love another boost Sept. 7.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced Monday that Matheson was among a handful of congressional Democrats it was endorsing, though it wouldn't say how much money it planned to give his campaign.