SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — President Donald Trump on Wednesday said Utah Rep. Mia Love is trailing in her re-election bid because she's kept him at arm's length.
The Associated Press has not yet called the race, but Trump claimed his fellow Republican "lost" after a campaign where she stressed her willingness to speak out on issues like immigration.
"Mia Love gave me no love and she lost. Too bad. Sorry about that Mia," Trump said during a news conference where he also called out others in his party for not fully embracing him, declaring Love had called him "all the time" to help with a Utah man who was freed from a Venezuelan jail after nearly two years.
In response to his remarks, Love's campaign spokeswoman Sasha Clark said: "There are still tens of thousands of ballots still to be counted. Nothing has changed."
Democrat Ben McAdams is leading Love by nearly 3 percentage points. But many votes in Republican-leaning areas have yet to be tallied.
Love, the first black female Republican in Congress, called out Trump when he used an expletive to describe her parents' home country of Haiti. She created some distance from Trump while running for a third term in a politically mixed district where many voters disapprove of the president.
More votes were released Wednesday afternoon in Salt Lake County, McAdams' home base, which showed that he continues to hold a sizable lead. GOP-leaning Utah County, though, doesn't plan to release any more results until Friday afternoon.
Vote tallies were slow in Utah County amid reports of long voting lines in the Republican-leaning county on election day and a slower return of early ballots than most other counties in the state.
McAdams' campaign manager Andrew Roberts told KUTV Trump's comment may have been a joke, but declined additional comment on the race.
Both candidates said late Tuesday night they were hopeful as they made brief appearances at election night parties.
"It is not over, but everything is looking good," McAdams said in a late-night speech. "I think it's going to take a few days before we know the outcome of the election, but if we win, this will be a win for people over politics."
The enthusiastic crowd, chanted, "Ben! Ben! Ben!"
Love, the only black Republican woman in Congress, drew cheers from supporters when she made a quick appearance.
"It's going to be a long night. A very long night. It always is," Love said.
Clark said some voters waited three hours or more to cast their ballots.
The state's other three Republican congressmen — Rob Bishop, John Curtis and Chris Stewart — easily won re-election bids.
The Love-McAdams race triggered a seemingly endless stream of mailers and TV and radio ads with the two trading barbs over trustworthiness, campaign finances and health care.
Love had spent $5 million during the election cycle through Oct. 25, while McAdams spent $2.6 million, according to Federal Election Commission data.
McAdams pitched himself as a moderate as he pursuing independent voters who are narrowly outnumbered by Republican voters in the 4th Congressional District. GOP voters outnumber Democrats nearly 3-1 in the district that includes several politically mixed suburbs of Salt Lake City. He was hoping to siphon some GOP votes while riding Democratic enthusiasm this midterm election.
Love, meanwhile, touted tax cuts as a benefit of a Republican House majority while working to tie McAdams to national Democrats.
Associated Press writers Tiffany Caldwell in Lehi, Utah, and Emily Anderson in Salt Lake City contributed to this story.
For AP's complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics