- Associated Press - Thursday, August 11, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday that he’s voting for Donald Trump and he thinks the Republican presidential nominee’s choice of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as a running mate brings stability to the campaign.

Herbert wouldn’t say if he’s concerned about Trump’s controversial comments and fights while on the campaign trail, but said he’s “not the apologist for the Trump campaign” and won’t comment on everything said on the campaign trail.

“Clearly what pops into his head and comes out of his mouth is sometimes not filtered,” Herbert said.

The Republican governor, speaking at his monthly televised news conference on KUED, said he believes Trump would appoint conservative U.S. Supreme Court nominees and protect states’ rights.

Democrats were quick to condemn Herbert’s announcement, with State Democratic Party Chair Peter Corroon releasing a statement calling the decision to vote for Trump “shameful” because he is “so clearly unfit and unqualified to be president.”

Herbert previously endorsed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz before Utah’s presidential caucus in March and has since equivocated on whether he would support Trump.

The governor said Thursday that the first big decision Trump had to make was to choose a vice president, and he thinks Pence was a great pick.

Herbert said some voters find the billionaire candidate’s comments refreshing and others find them off-putting, but all candidates have made comments the governor disagreed with.

He referred to Hillary Clinton’s comments saying that the U.S. would close coal mines, something Herbert said would hurt Utah’s economy and its coal workers.

The governor was asked about Clinton’s guest editorial on Wednesday in Utah’s Deseret News, where the Democratic nominee made an appeal to Mormon voters and quoted Herbert, among others.

Clinton compared Trump’s call for a temporary ban of foreign Muslims entering the U.S. to past efforts to persecute Mormons in America, and wrote “Listen to your governor, who saw Trump’s statement as a reminder of President Rutherford B. Hayes’ attempt to limit Mormon immigration to America in 1879.”

Herbert said Thursday that he appreciates the fact that Clinton recognized his policy was a good one.

“Any time anybody quotes me, I think they’re very smart people,” Herbert said.

Herbert was also asked about the controversial proposal to designate a new national monument in southern Utah. It’s unclear if President Obama intends to protect the sacred Native American site known as Bears Ears as a monument - his administration has said a decision isn’t imminent, but locals fiercely opposed to the idea fear it’s looming.

Last month, Herbert was criticized for calling the monument plan a “political tomahawk,” a comment that activists said dismissed Native voices.

During an annual meeting with Native American leaders this week, no one mentioned it as having been offensive, Herbert said.

He said the comment wasn’t meant to be offensive, but Native Americans are divided on the monument proposal, and “I think it was a good metaphor at the time.”

Critics were trying to score political points “and just try to divide us,” the governor said.

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