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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Campaigning In Montana, Rep Gianforte Says Economy Is Top Focus

Governor-elect Greg Gianforte
U.S. House of Representatives
U.S. Representative Greg Gianforte.

The U.S. House of Representatives is on recess, and that means Montana’s lone Republican Congressman Greg Gianforte is back home campaigning. I caught him on the phone between events in Kalispell and Havre Wednesday.

Nicky Ouellet: Congressman Gianforte, thanks so much for joining us today.

Greg Gianforte: Oh my pleasure. Thank you.

NO: How’s the August recess been treating you?

GG: Well we've been busy traveling the state. It's what I do every weekend. I'm really proud of the fact that since I was sworn in a year ago I haven't spent a weekend in Washington, D.C. yet.

NO: MTN News is reporting this morning that President Donald Trump will be in Billings next week campaigning for Senate hopeful Matt Rosendale. Will you be there and what do you expect the president to talk about?

GG: Yeah, I hope to. And I'm pleased to work with the president. I see him putting America first. I'm particularly proud of the work we've done together to help working Montanans put more money in their pockets.

NO: Michael Cohen pled guilty to illegally attempting to influence the 2016 election by paying off women to keep them quiet. He said that he did this at candidate Trump's direction. Does that mean that Mr. Trump committed a crime?

GG: You know, I don't, I'm not familiar with the specifics on that. I do know that, you know, President Trump is putting America first and I'm pleased to work with him.

NO: I'm going to push a little bit. When you say you don't know the specifics, what specifics are left open ended for you? What answers are you still looking for?

GG: Yeah. So Nicky, I'm focused on making sure the American Dream stays alive for Montanans and being a voice back in Washington. And I found the administration one that reflects those values and I'm able to work with them.

NO: As someone with a lot of expertise in the software and tech industry, do you think that President Trump’s claims that Google is rigged to deliver bad news about him, is that credible?

GG: You know, I don't know the answer to that, Nicky. I do think there there has been some concerns about transparency through some of these channels and if in fact there has been someone putting the finger on the scale, it's something, it would be a concern, should be a concern to people on both sides of the aisle, and we ought to take a look at it.

NO: One of the things that his administration has suggested is maybe moving to regulate Google. Would you support something like that or how would you want to see that addressed?

GG: You know it's hard to deal with a hypothetical because you don't know what the specifics are there. What I found in Washington is that the devil's always really in the details. I generally think that the market tends to sort these things out and we should. But again, consumers should expect that some man behind the curtain is not putting their finger on the scale. Let's investigate, let's figure out what's really going on and see if in fact someone's actually been wronged.

NO: What are you doing now in Congress that you think is important for people back home to hear about?

GG: So the number one thing is the economy. We need to make sure people can prosper. And our economy is now gone from anemic growth, less than 2 percent to north of 4 percent. That means wages are going up and there's more job opportunities. The second thing is we are working to make our communities safer. We need to secure the southern border so Mexican meth stops pouring into our communities in Montana. I'm also very proud of the fact that we've now passed dozens of bills in the U.S. House to rein in opioid and methamphetamine use to get people treatment, to increase funding there. And finally we've rebuilt our military to make sure that the number one responsibility of the federal government is national defense. And making sure we take care of our vets with the Mission Act. Those are all very important actions that we've taken.

NO: Congressman, thank you so much for your time this morning.

GG: My pleasure. Thank you Nicky.

Nicky is MTPR's Flathead-area reporter.
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