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Hatch, Leavitt join Armey in GOP support of Smith

House leader had championed Cook before his defeat

SHARE Hatch, Leavitt join Armey in GOP support of Smith

A pair of prominent Utah Republicans, Gov. Mike Leavitt and Sen. Orrin Hatch, joined U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey in a show of unified GOP support for 2nd Congressional candidate Derek Smith on Thursday.

The evening political rally at Liberty Park came almost three months after Armey made a Utah fund-raising appearance for now lame-duck Rep. Merrill Cook, Smith's opponent in last month's Republican primary.

Then, Armey, R-Texas, told a group of Republican delegates he would trust Cook with his children's future and emphasized that Cook "beats Democrats." Armey also said he had given the maximum amount of cash allowed by law to the Cook campaign.

The majority leader delivered a similar message to Smith supporters Thursday, saying he had given a monetary donation to Smith's cause and would "trust this young man with my children's future."

Flanked by the governor and Hatch, Armey called for Utah Republican voters to make sure the 2nd District seat isn't taken by Democratic candidate Jim Matheson. Armey views the Utah race as pivotal to maintaining GOP control in Congress after the November election.

"I was upset at the way the Democrats drooled over our differences," Armey said referring to the often bitter campaign waged between Cook and Smith.

"Now it's over and he (Smith) won," Armey said. "That makes him our nominee. We've got to be behind him all the way." At his previous Utah appearance, Armey admitted he was a close personal friend of Cook and could count on the two-term representative for support in the House.

Hatch and Leavitt remained noticeably quiet during the event and Rep. Jim Hansen was a no-show, but Smith was upbeat and thanked a couple hundred supporters and Armey, saying, "Isn't it great to win?"

E-MAIL: bsnyder@desnews.com