No matter who wins the U.S. Senate race in Montana come November — State Auditor Matt Rosendale or incumbent Democrat Jon Tester — Big Sky Country will send to Washington someone with a flattop. It’s still that kind of place.
And to ensure that old-fashioned haircut is a Republican one, the president of the United States flew the 2,074 long miles back in time to the arena in Great Falls last night for one of his trademark campaign rallies.
“Thank you, Montana. What a place. What a place! It’s great to be here tonight with thousands of proud, hard-working American patriots.”
Now honestly, every president is delighted to be wherever he is speaking. And he knows the audience is all patriots, otherwise they wouldn’t be so deliriously happy to hear him.
Trump should be happy to be in Montana, however briefly. He won the state by 20 points in 2016. Not as good as George W. Bush’s 2000 victory margin of 25 points when he had the active support of the state’s popular Gov. Marc Racicot. But still a warning sign to music-teacher-turned-farmer-turned-pol Tester, who wants a third term.
It’s fascinating to watch the ultra-rich New Yorker work his thing on a vast blue-collar place like Montana, which is larger than two Floridas with five percent of that state’s current population.
You can watch the entire rally here courtesy of C-SPAN’s Video Archives. The first speaker is elder son Donald Trump Jr., who looks mighty comfortable on a political stage. The president starts speaking just before the 20-minute mark.
Trump sounded many familiar themes, including the strong economy, the need for real borders, the dishonest media and obstructionist Democrats. He’s added Maxine Waters to the list with those other elite coastals Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. And he mocked Elizabeth Warren again for her claim to Native American heritage.
“You deserve a senator,” the president said to loud cheers, “who doesn’t just talk like he’s from Montana. You deserve a senator who actually votes like he’s from Montana.”
He criticized Tester for voting against the Republican tax cut bill, repealing Obamacare and opposing Trump’s travel ban on some people from predominantly Muslim countries, recently upheld by the Supreme Court.
Tester’s strategy is a familiar one for Montana Dems–work liberal in D.C. then run conservative every six years back home. Think six-termer Max Baucus. Trump Jr. made fun of Tester for just now acquiring a hunting license after 15 years.
Last week in a North Dakota rally Trump criticized Senate Democrat incumbent Heidi Heitkamp for much the same. Like Tester, she’s one of 10 Democrats running in states that Trump captured in 2016. And Trump is campaigning hard there to maintain or possibly enlarge the slim GOP majority.
But the Montana presidential visit (rare for a place that has but three electoral votes) was also clearly personal for Trump. He vowed in April that Tester would “have a big price to pay” for releasing unsubstantiated allegations that torpedoed Trump’s nomination of Dr. Ronny Jackson to head the Veterans Administration.
Tester said things about him that were horrible and they weren’t true. And that’s probably why I’m here. Because I won Montana by so many points, I don’t have to come here.
Trump also announced that from now on his rallies, expected to go on all summer and into the fall, will have giant TV screens outside the venue for the “thousands and thousands” of people who can’t get in.