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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Sen. Steve Daines Responds To Trump's Praise For Gianforte 'Body Slam'

President Donald Trump mimes a 'body slam' at Thursday's rally while speaking about Rep. Greg Gianforte.

President Donald Trump is sticking by remarks he made during last night’s campaign rally in Missoula praising Congressman Greg Gianforte for assaulting a reporter last year.

“Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of guy," Trump said. 

This earned Trump criticism amid international furor over the apparent assassination of a Washington Post columnist inside a Saudi Consultant in Istanbul two weeks ago.

A reporter asked Trump today if he regretted making those remarks in light of that allegation. In this audio clip courtesy of MSNBC Trump said:

“Not at all. It’s a different world. That was a different league, a different world. No," Trump said. "(Gianforte) ia great guy and, you know Greg very well, right? That was a tremendous success last night in Montana and Greg is a tremendous person. He’s a tough cookie and I’ll stay with that.”

Montana’s Republican Senator Steve Daines shared the stage with Trump last night. He was back in Missoula this afternoon.

I asked him if the President was wrong to have made those remarks:

“Well, I’ll say this. I’ve known Greg Gianforte for 20 years. He’s been a friend of mine. We raised our kids together. Greg was very clear that the incident that happened that he regrets it. He’s apologized for it. He’s taken responsibility for it and he’s moved on," Daines said.

I asked him if the President was wrong to say that? Was it the morally responsible thing to say? The politically expedient thing to say?

“Again, I can’t speak for the President," Daines said, "but I can speak for Greg. He’s a dear friend of mine and he regrets what happened. I’m sure he wished he could have that night over again. He wishes he could have that moment. We make mistakes in life and he’s taken responsibility for it and he’s moved on.

Do you wish the President had not said that? I asked.

"You’ll have to ask President Trump that," Daines replied.

And with that one of Daines' staff brought the discussion to an end.

The White House Correspondents’ Association Friday condemned Trump’s remarks.

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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