BOISE - Former Republican presidential candidate and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney traveled to Idaho Wednesday and appeared at an Idaho Falls rally where he is endorsing Tommy Ahlquist for Idaho’s next governor.
Romney was in Boise earlier at a luncheon rally where he said Ahlquist's experience as a physician and businessman has helped make him qualified to become the state's CEO.
When asked what the endorsement of the man who endorsed Gov. Butch Otter in the 2014 election means to his campaign, Ahlquist said: "He is a business guy, a very successful business guy, who brought those leadership skills right into government. And you look at that track record, that’s what I love talking to him about. How did you it? How did you translate success in business to what you did in Massachusetts what you did in the Olympics?
"He is an unbelievable leader and I look up to him as a mentor and hero."
Wednesday's announcement comes on the heels of an effort by the Idaho County Republican Central Committee to discredit Ahlquist as a true Republican, calling it a “recent 2016 affiliation."
A document sent to the state's 44 Republican county chairs and most of Idaho’s media outlets outlines his record of donating to democratic candidates, including A.J. Balukoff in the 2014 gubernatorial campaign, Boise Mayor Dave Beiter and others.
The resolution says the committee believes the Idaho Republican Party has a vested interest in protecting the integrity of its Republican brand.
"The facts are, I’ve been a Republican my whole life, I voted for Republicans," Ahlquist said. "I gave money to A.J. but I gave the same amount to Butch and voted for Butch. They choose the facts they want to look at and focus on. They don’t want to talk about solutions to our biggest problems. I wish they would look at the solutions we are proposing which are very conservative. You can't let things like this bother you." responded Ahlquist.
Romney and Alhquist attended a rally Wednesday evening in Idaho Falls where Romney’s support during the 2012 campaign was extremely strong.
Ahlquist is running against Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little and Congressman Raul Labrador for the governor's seat.
No Democrat has officially entered the race.