In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns were springing up around the globe. Some Americans found themselves trapped abroad with no flights back to the U.S. They needed assistance and key figures stepped forward to help me and my team at the National Security Council. 

One of those officials was Utah’s senior senator, Mike Lee.

Before I became America’s national security advisor, I was the top hostage negotiator at the State Department. I know that getting Americans home safely from tight spots overseas is one of the most difficult and important responsibilities of our government. 

I always had a partner in these cases in Mike, especially when the citizens hailed from Utah.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, meets with members of the Senate Minority Caucus at the Capitol in Salt Lake City.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, meets with members of the Senate Minority Caucus at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Whether it was a natural disaster, pandemic or malign activity by a rogue government, Mike was on the case. The Americans might be missionaries serving abroad, families on vacation or stranded business people — it didn’t matter, they all had an advocate in Mike. 

He met with foreign governments and encouraged U.S. officials and agencies to act. He didn’t stop until our people were home. In several cases, the senator and I worked together to bring missionaries safely back to the U.S. Mike does not get much credit for this work on behalf of Utahns because he doesn’t seek publicity. This attitude sets him apart from most politicians in Washington.

One of the most underrated skills in Washington is the ability to get the right counsel to the right people at the right time. While I was national security advisor, I could count on Mike’s wise counsel when I needed it. And so could the president.

“He is the rare politician who disregards polls and cares little about scoring partisan political points. Commonsense conservatism and doing the right thing drive Mike as a legislator.”

I called upon Mike often because he was always willing to talk through ideas and bring his Utah-style, straightforward and well-reasoned analysis to the table. His dedicated study of the Constitution and commitment to conservative family values inform his views and, ultimately, his decisions. He is the rare politician who disregards polls and cares little about scoring partisan political points. Commonsense conservatism and doing the right thing drive Mike as a legislator.

Because he is kind, doesn’t seek the limelight and has a demonstrated record of integrity, Mike has built relationships of trust with colleagues across the political spectrum. He has a reputation on both sides of the aisle for being genuine, generous and funny. Those relationships allow him to get things done on a bipartisan basis. And bipartisan solutions to our national security and domestic challenges is something we need more of in Washington. 

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In addition to his advocacy for constituents, Mike is one heck of a legislator. 

He led Republican efforts to pass the First STEP Act, the biggest criminal justice reform law in decades. He continues to work with Democrat senators like Bernie Sanders and Chris Murphy to bring war powers back to Congress where the Constitution says they belong. He has also worked with Democrats to expand the tax deductions for charitable giving. This is an issue of particular importance to Utahns, the most generous people in America. His proposed legislation covers family leave proposals, border security, religious liberty, military and veterans issues, and every important issues in between. 

As a part-time resident of Utah, I am very pleased that Mike is my senator. More importantly, I am honored to be his friend. Mike is a happy warrior for the conservative cause.  He always puts his constituents first. Mike is a wise and sought-after adviser in Congress and the executive branch. He is great American. Accordingly, I wholeheartedly endorse Mike for reelection. 

Ambassador Robert C. O’Brien (ret.) served as the 28th U.S. national security advisor. 

Then-Vice President Joe Biden administers a ceremonial Senate oath to Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, left, who is accompanied by his wife Sharon, Jan. 5, 2011, in the Old Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Vice President Joe Biden administers a ceremonial Senate oath during a mock swearing-in ceremony to Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, left, accompanied by his wife Sharon, Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011, in the Old Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) | Manuel Balce Ceneta, Associated Press