Posted at 04:45 PM ET, 06/05/2012

In Utah Senate race, a rush to embrace Romney — and Bain

First, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) played up his ties to Mitt Romney in the face of a tough reelection bid.

Now, with the Utah Senate GOP primary three weeks away, state Sen. Dan Liljenquist (R) – who will face Hatch at the polls on June 26 -- is similarly embracing the presumptive GOP nominee, including Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital.

The move by Liljenquist is a testament to Romney’s popularity in Utah, where he graduated from Brigham Young University in 1971 and headed up the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002.

It’s also a testament to the close political relationship between Romney and Hatch, who first endorsed the former Massachusetts governor during his 2008 White House bid.

From a dispatch by the Web site Disreport on a Liljenquist town hall in Provo on Saturday:

Liljenquist began his speech, complete with a few jokes about his last name and meeting his wife while studying at BYU. In giving his introduction Liljenquist made sure to mention his work at Bain & Company, which he refers to as “Mitt’s company,” although Mitt Romney had not worked at Bain & Company for almost a decade during Liljenquist’s brief tenure there. He later name-dropped “Bain” and “Mitt” several more times, although Liljenquist’s work at Bain was only a small part of the former state senator’s decade-long work in the private sector. Later in his speech Liljenquist stated that he was a “huge Mitt Romney supporter.”

Romney announced his endorsement of Hatch in September, and this year cut a TV ad for the Utah senator’s campaign ahead of the March 15 Republican caucus meetings.

Last month, Romney tapped Hatch to serve as a “special adviser on policy,” a role in which the senator “will serve as a surrogate for the Romney campaign and provide strategic policy advice on key economic issues.”

By  |  04:45 PM ET, 06/05/2012

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