Republican Senate hopeful Matt Rosendale is campaigning in western Montana this week. His message is a mix of touting his conservative voting record and striking out at Democratic incumbent Jon Tester.
A handful of the 30 or so people who showed up at Rosendale’s lunch rally at Cove Pizza in Polson Thursday said they didn’t really know the candidate yet, but they like that he has President Donald Trump’s stamp of approval.
Susan Taylor, who drove down from Bigfork for the event, said "Trump supports him. He agrees with the Trump agenda, and that's a good thing for Washington D.C. A little little less controversy and fights and maybe a little more support for our president."
While Taylor listed strengthening borders and fostering security and prosperity in a capitalist system as her top issues, others said Rosendale’s stance on healthcare makes him their candidate.
Susan Kote of Polson says she hopes Republicans can maintain majorities in the House and Senate to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, with a more flexible, non-government run system.
"Basically they're wanting to push it back to the states," says Kote. "Which is really where it needs to be, versus a federal government behemoth type of administration."
Rosendale spent much of his 10-minute stump speech pointing to his own conservative cred during his two terms in the Montana legislature. And he said Montana Republicans should take advantage of squabbling inside the Democratic party.
"We have a united team, folks, but we need your help," Rosendale told the crowd. "If we do that, we're going to maintain the majorities we have in the United States Senate. We'll maintain the majorities we have in the United States House. And we'll maintain this effort the president has to expand our economy and defend our nation and to make, yeah, America great again, because that's going to make Montana great again, too."
The Senate race has taken a vicious turn in the form of attack ads from out-of-state Political Action Committees. Rosendale said the ones targeting him are full of lies. In Polson, he railed against Tester’s support of the ACA and his opposition to some of Trump’s judicial nominations and tax reform.
"We cannot continue to send someone to Washington D.C. that does not represent our values, that comes back and tries to feed us lies and tell us how much he supports us and our way of life," said Rosendale.
Rosendale was in Kalispell this evening and heads to Libby, Thompson Falls and Missoula this weekend.