A day before early voting started in Montana Republican US Senate Candidate Matt Rosendale kicked off a 15 city tour in Missoula, and incumbent Senator Jon Tester stopped by his Kalispell campaign office before returning to work in Washington.
In Missoula Rosendale spoke to about 40 people, expressing gratitude for support from his family. He said the hearings for US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh demonstrated that family support is vital.
"We saw that play out over the last 30 days with Brett Kavanaugh," Rosendale said, "his family stood there beside him, thick and thin, and we saw, sometimes it’s a little bit tough."
Jason Howard, who came to the event, said the Kavanaugh hearings compelled him to support Rosendale. Howard said the Senate’s handling of sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh frustrated him, and that Tester voted against Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
"We need to get people in there to support good men," Howard said.
Rosendale praised the Senate’s decision to confirm Kavanaugh this weekend and said that as a justice, he will enforce the law.
"Saturday, we saw the restoration of our republic and due process," Rosendale said.
Rosendale often criticizes Tester for voting against the president’s agenda. The candidate said he stands with the president on policies like tax reform and stricter border security. Tester counters that he has written or helped send more than three dozen bills to the White House that President Trump has signed.
Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr. and Vice President Mike Pence have each visited Montana twice to stump for Rosendale.
"They are glad to come out, and try to keep this momentum moving forward because they know, also, that the path to that majority is coming through Montana," Rosendale told his supporters.
Rosendale says he plans to visit 15 Montana cities this week on what he called the Montana First Tour.
In Kalispell, Senator Tester was at the Montana Democratic Party’s field office to galvanize the 50 or so people signing up for volunteer shifts.
"If we do a good job up here in the Flathead, we might get the election called before midnight," he said, eliciting cheers from his backers.
Flathead County has proven a tough nut to crack for Democrats. Tester lost here by 15 points when won his first term, and by 18 when he won his current one.
Rosendale is hitting Tester hard on his no vote for recently confirmed Supreme Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who Rosendale says was the victim of a smear campaign by the so-called “liberal resistance.”
Tester says he was a no vote outside of the three sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh that almost sunk his confirmation.
"I believe in the Constitution. I believe in the 4th Amendment, the right to privacy and improper search and seizure, and I don’t think Kavanagh was good on that at all," Tester told MTPR.
Tester also takes issue with Kavanaugh’s record upholding the PATRIOT Act, which Tester calls an intrusion on private life, and Kavanaugh’s support of so-called dark money in elections.
"It's a threat to our democracy and I think most Montanans feel that way, and hopefully they'll feel that way when they go to the polls," he said.
Tester says he plans to cast his Montana ballot early by absentee and spend the next week working to repeal short term health insurance plans, which Rosendale promotes as providing relief from the Affordable Care Act many Republicans despise.
"If you buy these insurance policies that don't cover much and they're really cheap, you have a false sense of security," Tester said, "so we're going to have a debate about that and hopefully put some sideboards on it."