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Senate candidate Matt Rosendale speaks to the media Thursday morning after touring an electrical contracting company in Missoula.

U.S. Senate candidate Matt Rosendale toured a small business in Missoula on Thursday to tout the benefits of the federal tax reform bill passed by Congress in December and accuse his opponent of standing in the way of President Donald Trump’s agenda.

Rosendale, a Republican and the current state auditor, is challenging incumbent U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat, for his seat in the November general election.

At Anchor Electric, Rosendale said company owner Paul Lindstrom told him that the tax reform package allowed him to expand his businesses and hire about 10 additional employees.

“They’ve acquired another firm and now we’ve been talking, he plans to take advantage of additional parts of the tax reform package that allow the small businesses across the state to make major expenditures, capital investments, in their firm and expense that out over one year instead of having to depreciate it out over several years,” Rosendale said. “That’s not only helped these businesses to expand, bring on additional employees, make their businesses more efficient because of those major purchases, but it’s also been driving the manufacturing sector across the nation."

Rosendale said he's seen reports that there are hundreds of thousands of new manufacturing jobs in the U.S. because of the tax reform package.

"That’s one of the things that Jon Tester has voted against in opposition to the desires of the people of Montana," Rosendale said.

Sen. Tester voted against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, calling it a “disastrous plan” in a statement last December.

“This tax scheme not only saddles future generations with more debt, it also raises taxes on Montana families in the long run, forces cuts to Medicare, and caps deductions that allow Montanans to keep more of their hard-earned money in their wallets,” Tester said. “This all takes place while corporate tax cuts remain permanent, inflating the bank accounts of big business and leaving the folks who do the hard work with smaller paychecks.”

Rosendale said Tester’s vote against the bill was one of the reasons he is motivated to run for U.S. Senate.

“We’ve got somebody that is in Washington, D.C., right now that has opposed the president on every single term whether you are talking about Supreme Court nominees, whether you are talking about the expansion of our economy, whether you are talking about securing our nation and securing our southern border instead of having open borders and sanctuary cities,” Rosendale said.

“The president needs more help in order to implement this agenda, and he just doesn’t have it right now.” (Tester's own campaign touts the fact that Trump has signed 18 bills that the Democrat either sponsored or co-sponsored.)

The GOP-backed bill passed the Senate in a 51-48 vote.

We’ve got a margin that is too thin in the United States Senate,” Rosendale said. “We need a couple additional seats. Montana has been identified by people across the nation, including the president, as one of the most likely seats that we could flip from the Democrats to Republican control and that’s why he’s made this such a priority and the vice president has made this such a priority and they’ve been out here to help us secure this seat."

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report lists Montana's Senate race in the "likely Democrat" category.

Rosendale said his first legislative action, should he win the election, will be to cut spending.

“The tax reform package demonstrated that it’s estimated to bring in record- breaking amounts of revenue to the federal government, about $3.4 trillion,” he said. “The problem is that we’re also going to spend record amounts of revenue, about $4.2 trillion. So we have to close that gap between what we’re spending and what we’re generating in the realm of revenue, and I’ve demonstrated my desire and ability to reduce spending.”

Rosendale gave some recent examples from his time as a state legislator from Glendive, saying his actions were consistent “whether we’re talking about my time in state Legislature where I brought millions of dollars in reductions in spending forward, or whether you’re talking about my activity as the auditor for the state of Montana where I reduced my operating costs by 23 percent and reduced staffing by 16 percent and quite frankly declined my own pay raise last summer when the state’s budget was in a crisis and was the only state elected official to do so."

Rosendale also defended the tariffs imposed by Trump on certain foreign imports such as solar panels, washing machines, steel and aluminum, which have sparked retaliatory tariffs on American exports imposed by foreign markets.

“The tariffs are a concern for everybody, but I think that what we do have to recognize is that when people talk about this turning into a trade war, we’ve had a trade war going on for decades,” he said. “And we’ve been losing, quite frankly, and we have not acknowledged that. And now we have a president who said we’re not going to tolerate it anymore. We’re going to have reciprocal agreements."

He said President Trump asked foreign leaders if they would join him to achieve a goal of zero subsidies and zero tariffs, but none accepted.

"So the president right now is using his authority, his negotiating skills, which we haven’t had in the administration for quite some time, to make sure we get good trade agreements in place for the consumers and producers in Montana and across the nation," Rosendale said.

The bottom line, Rosendale said, is that reducing regulations and reducing taxes is very productive.

“Businesses know how to spend money better than the government does,” he said.

Rosendale's visit to Missoula was part of a swing through western Montana that also took him to Polson and Kalispell Thursday; Libby, Trout Creek and back to Missoula on Friday; and Missoula and Hamilton on Saturday.

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