Crowds topping slightly more than a hundred people gathered at rallies in Ronan and Missoula on Saturday to hear Donald Trump Jr. support Republican U.S. Senate candidate Matt Rosendale and U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte.
Trump Jr. headlined the eight-stop, two-day bus tour through the state with Rosendale and Gianforte in an effort to get Republican voters to the polls for the Nov. 6 midterm elections in Montana.
The stops in Ronan and Missoula were about an hour away from each other and for the most part, the candidates focused on the same talking points: praise for the Trump administration, calls to protect the Republican majority, and the need to keep taxes low, promote open spaces, and secure the U.S.-Mexico border.
The candidates and Trump Jr. all criticized Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, who Rosendale is trying to unseat. Numerous times throughout the rallies, candidates and Trump Jr. brought up the topic of hunting.
“Jon hasn't had a hunting license in six years,” Trump Jr. said, adding that Tester is “a poacher or a liar” if he’s hunting without a license. “I’m from New York City. I've had more hunting licenses in Montana than Jon Tester.”
Trump Jr. said that he became interested in Montana politics after he met U.S. Senator Steve Daines, a Republican, who invited him to go hunting. In Missoula and Ronan, he also discussed how Tester’s allegations against President Trump’s Veterans Affairs nomination, Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, upset him and called them an assault on Jackson's character.
President Trump also referenced Tester’s allegations against Jackson when he held a rally in Missoula on Oct. 18, which Trump said Tester would “pay” for in a tweet. Trump has visited Montana three times in four months, with possible discussion of a fourth visit before election day.
The tour echoed Trump’s rhetoric during rallies, with many people attending the rallies Saturday simply to support the Republican party.
“I came to support the Republican candidates,” said Rob Edington, who attended the Lake County rally Saturday at the Ronan Community Center. “I’m less knowledgeable about the initiatives, however, that’s something I’ll be researching them before the elections.”
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Barbara and Mauri Morin said they came to the rally to support candidates who support Trump, and because they weren’t able to see Trump when he came to Missoula.
Despite its location on the Flathead Indian Reservation, most of the members of the crowd at the Ronan Community Center appeared to be white men and women.
Saturday’s rally at the Missoula Winery and Event Center drew a similar crowd, as well as a visit from Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. Paul addressed the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, which was another topic of discussion among the candidates. Paul called what happened to Kavanaugh unfair, asking attendees: "Is anybody disgusted about what they did to that man?"
Daines also commented on Kavanaugh at the rally in Ronan. "Don’t you think we need a senator that would stand with Brett Kavanaugh instead of against Brett Kavanaugh?" he said. Rosendale added that as a senator, he would support Trump's choice of Supreme Court justices.
Gianforte also reiterated certain topics at both rallies, which included immigration. “We’re building the wall because we’ve got to secure the border," he said. "We’ve got to build the wall. We’ve got to end illegal immigration and caravans coming across our southern border."
He referenced a recent conversation he said he had with a sheriff in Montana, who he said told him: "We don’t have Montana meth, we have Mexican meth coming into our communities."
Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former Fox News personality and Trump Jr.’s girlfriend, added that she supported Rosendale and Gianforte as businessmen and said their families reminded her of the Trump family.
Trump Jr. ended the Missoula rally by reminding attendees that their vote is needed during midterms to support Trump.
The tour also included stops in Bozeman, Butte, Helena, Great Falls, Kalispell and Hamilton.