GOP debate: will Trump, Rubio, Cruz, Kasich and Carson hit Park City?
February 23, 2016
The Republican presidential candidates will gather in Salt Lake City next month for a debate, putting them a short drive from the Park City area.
The chairman of the Summit County Republican Party hopes they make the trip up Interstate 80 for a swing through Park City prior to the March 21 debate.
Tal Adair, who leads the Summit County GOP, said he wants the candidates to visit Park City or surrounding Summit County in the days prior to the debate or even earlier. That would allow the presidential hopefuls to spend time in Summit County talking to voters, he said. The debate is scheduled the day before the state’s Republican caucuses.
"We just don’t want one day on the national stage," said Adair, who has not decided which of the Republican candidates he will support.
Adair said early in the week there is a possibility candidates will stump in Summit County. He said the campaign of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz contacted him in January inquiring about the possibility of an event in the Park City area. He said, though, the campaign provided few details at that point.
Adair said the debate will be good for Utah politics. He plans to attend if he is invited. He said the decision to hold a debate in Utah reflects well on the state as he mentioned a strong economy. The debate will give Utah "a voice on the national stage," he said.
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"It’s a great thing for Utah, whether you’re Republican or Democrat," Adair also said. "Utah’s been a flyover state."
Kraig Powell, the Republican legislator from Heber City whose district includes Park City, said he had heard rumors the Republicans were planning something "exciting" around the time of the caucuses.
"Very electric for anybody interested in politics in the state of Utah," Powell said.
He added that he has been asked whether he can get people tickets to the debate.
Powell is the campaign chair for John Kasich, the governor of Ohio. He described Kasich as a popular governor of a swing state who also served in Congress. Powell noted Kasich’s budgeting acumen while a congressman.
There has been a series of top tier political visits to Park City over the past decade, but they have generally been linked to a fundraiser or Mitt Romney’s annual gatherings in Deer Valley. It would be rare for a presidential candidate to visit the Park City area as part of a whistle-stop tour just before an election.
Democrat Hillary Clinton held a fundraiser in the area in 2015 while others who have visited include Barack Obama in the early part of his presidential campaign, Vice President Joe Biden and Romney, who has a long history in Park City dating to before he was selected to lead the 2002 Winter Olympics.
The Park City Chamber/Bureau by early in the week had not received an inquiry from any of the presidential campaigns about lodging or the availability of convention space, Bill Malone, the president and CEO of the organization, said. He said there is a possibility there will be an interest in visiting Park City for entertainment.
The chairman of the Summit County Democratic Party, Glenn Wright, said the Republican debate in Utah "will show the contrast between the parties," particularly regarding immigration stands. He said the GOP debate could add interest to the Democratic presidential contest in Utah, but he was not sure on Monday whether the state’s Democrats will organize an event while the Republican candidates are in Utah.
"I think it’s a very good thing. I wish our party was doing it," Wright said about the debate.