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Herbert says he'll vote for Ted Cruz in Utah presidential caucus

FILE - Governor Gary R. Herbert smiles Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. Gov. Gary Herbert announced Monday that he will join Mitt Romney during Tuesday night's caucus meeting and vote for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz as the Republican presidential nominee.
FILE - Governor Gary R. Herbert smiles Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. Gov. Gary Herbert announced Monday that he will join Mitt Romney during Tuesday night's caucus meeting and vote for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz as the Republican presidential nominee.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has endorsed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for president.

"In Tuesday night's caucus meeting, I will join Mitt Romney in voting for Ted Cruz," Herbert said at a news conference Monday. "I think (Cruz) does exhibit constitutional values, the conservative values that reflect Utah."

Herbert's announcement comes on the heels of a new Deseret News/KSL poll that showed Utahns were more likely to vote for a Democrat for president for the first time in more than 50 years if Donald Trump becomes the Republican Party's nominee.

Herbert echoed Mitt Romney's announcement last week that he will vote for Cruz in the Utah presidential preference caucus in hopes to block front-runner Trump from the Republican nomination.

"I don't think (Trump) is the best person for the job," Herbert said. "It's a matter of putting the best person that can be elected into the Oval Office, and I don't think Donald Trump is that person."

When reporters asked Herbert if he would vote for Trump if he became the Republican nominee, the governor said, "Let's hope that that doesn't have to be my decision."

Last week, Romney said the "only path" to nominate a Republican other than Trump is to have an open convention, and the only way to reach an open convention is for Cruz to be "successful in as many of the remaining nominating elections as possible."

Herbert said he agrees with Romney's logic, even though he's been "partial" to governors and has "great reverence and respect" for presidential Republican candidate Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

"But I'm also a practical Republican," Herbert said. "And I see here in Utah that the pathway forward, the best opportunity we have to get the best man in office is Sen. Cruz."

Herbert said it's "important" that Cruz win all 40 of Utah's delegates.

"I think it's a catalyst. It will be a boost for Sen. Cruz, so I'm hopeful that takes place and I expect it will," he said.

When asked if he thinks Utah would vote for a Democrat in November if Trump became the Republican nominee, Herbert said it's too early to predict. "I think this is a conservative Republican state, and I expect it will vote Republican," he said.

Herbert added that Cruz would be "our best hope" to push back on the "constant overreach of the federal government," which he said has created dysfunction in Washington D.C. and led to the $19 trillion debt.

Email: kmckellar@deseretnews.com

Twitter: KatieMcKellar1