UT Alcohol & Bev. Control Commis. chair/deli chain owner Sam Granato (D) says ex-Jon Huntsman gen. counsel Mike Lee (R) is "too extreme" -- even for "one of the most conservative states in the nation."
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In an election year when little is going their way," Dems "have hit on the catchphrase they hope will give voters pause and make them ask the question: Are these the people we want leading the country?"
"Granato insists he isn't taking a page from the national playbook, but responding to what he hears on the campaign trail." Granato: "People are saying to me: 'This man is extreme, he scares me.' I'm mainstream. I'm the moderate in this race. He is more polarized and more different than I would ever think to be."
"Granato first called Lee extreme in interviews shortly after Lee became" the GOP nominee in June, "and Granato hasn't let up since." Granato's campaign "sent out a news release criticizing Lee's proposal to dismantle Social Security and allow states to create their own safety nets, as a way to reform the financially troubled program."
Granato: "Utahns can't afford Mike Lee's irresponsible and extreme approach to this very serious problem."
Lee "said voters won't buy the 'too extreme' argument." Lee: "You have to do more than throw out disparaging labels to win an election."
Lee said what's outside the mainstream is not the tea party and its candidates, but the bloated national debt, unemployment rate and tax burden. Lee: "If someone is looking for what is extreme, it is preserving the status quo."
Granato is going to lengths to demonstrate his moderate platform, even recruiting the son of Sen. Bob Bennett (R), who Lee defeated in the GOP primary, to work on his campaign and lead the "Republicans For Granato" effort. Granato: "Mike Lee, as you know, is the tea party candidate, and Utahns are not tea party people. I guarantee that my message is going to be accepted by more people than his."
"Lee said he won't change the direction of his campaign." Lee: "My message is going to be consistent with what it has been all along. Our federal government is too big and too expensive. I should say extremely big and expensive" (Canham, Salt Lake Tribune, 9/13).