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Will Trump’s support yield GOP victory in Montana Senate race?

In Montana’s closely contested senate race, cattle ranching and President Trump’s trade policy are major issues. The president has visited the state three times in recent months to back Republican Matt Rosendale, while Montana’s only Democratic member of Congress, Sen. Jon Tester, tries to defend his seat. Tester questions Rosendale’s farming credibility in a state where agriculture dominates.

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  • Amna Nawaz:

    From fiscal policy, to the politics of tariffs and agriculture, key issues for at least one major Senate contest on Election Day.

    In Montana, it's a clash between the Democratic incumbent, Jon Tester, and his Republican challenger, Matt Rosendale.

    President Trump traveled there tonight for a rally.

    We have this report now coming from Anna Rau of Montana PBS.

  • Anna Rau:

    The folksy conversation and casual food mask the rising stakes of Montana's Senate race.

    Montana's lone Democrat in Congress faces a Trump-backed Republican.

  • President Donald Trump:

    I see Jon Tester saying such nice things about me. I say, yeah, but he never votes for me.

  • Anna Rau:

    And Trump is doing everything he can to rally his base against Tester, visiting the state three times in three months and sending Vice President Pence and Trump Jr. to Montana.

  • Matt Rosendale:

    To have the president of the United States to stand up on stage and invite me up to stand beside him and say, I need this guy to help me because the current senator is opposing everything I do, that is an honor.

  • Sen. Jon Tester, D- Mont.:

    Well, I have said since the president got elected, and every president as far as that goes, we will work with him when we can, and hold him accountable when we must.

  • Anna Rau:

    Critical to the state's economy is the agriculture industry, farming and ranching, something both candidates have personal connections to.

  • Sen. Jon Tester, D- Mont.:

    Well, no, I should be home farming, to be honest with you.

  • Anna Rau:

    Tester proudly displays photos of his Big Sandy farm in his office, and on his desk photos of tractors. Many weekends, Tester flies back from D.C. to farm the same property his parents and grandparents farmed.

  • Matt Rosendale:

    I'm a businessman. I'm a rancher.

  • Anna Rau:

    Rosendale's office also includes pictures of his ranch near Glendive.

  • Matt Rosendale:

    Redid the kitchen, and we're very, very happy there.

  • Anna Rau:

    Tester is critical of Rosendale for calling himself a rancher, when he does not own or sell any cattle.

  • Narrator:

    Rosendale quietly scrubbed rancher from his campaign Web sites.

  • Man:

    That's right. All hat, no cows.

  • Anna Rau:

    Rosendale says he's helped his neighbors herd and brand cattle. And while he does not own them, there are cattle on his ranch.

  • Sen. Jon Tester, D- Mont.:

    Thank you, Mr. President. I rise today to talk about tariffs and their impacts.

  • Anna Rau:

    The two are also at odds over Trump's tariffs.

    Tester agrees China and other countries need to be held accountable. But he's not sure this is the best way to do it.

  • Sen. Jon Tester, D- Mont.:

    We're already seeing the impacts in agriculture, where we export so much of our products. And those tariffs can have incredibly negative impacts on farm gate prices.

  • Matt Rosendale:

    The president is out there right now trying to make sure we get fair, that we get fair trade agreements put in place, so that the consumers and the producers of the United States benefit from it.

  • Anna Rau:

    Rosendale says the tough tactics are working, with Mexico and Canada recently signing a new trade deal. China, however, continues to escalate the trade war.

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