Trump exhorts Montana GOP to ‘Keep America Great’

(The Electric) President Donald Trump spoke for over an hour late Thursday afternoon to a capacity crowd at Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls, beseeching party faithful to oust incumbent Democratic Sen. Jon Tester in November and to “Keep America Great” in 2020 by reelecting him to a second term as the nation’s commander-in-chief.

Tester’s Republican challenger, State Auditor Matt Rosendale, is “the person we are here for tonight … he’s going to be your next senator,” the president told an oft-cheering capacity crowd.

Trump brought Rosendale onto the stage, declaring “what’s good for America is great for Montana.” He said Rosendale is “a really good man … who loves Montana” and that it’s time to retire Tester because he voted against a number of the president’s initiatives.

“I know a lot of people from Montana … how did he get elected? You can right your wrong in November,” Trump said. “Tester doesn’t share your values.”

As Trump was making those comments, a woman was escorted out of the arena. She’d been yelling closer to the stage and was shouting “you’re a liar” as she was being escorted out by a Secret Service agent.

Another woman was in the balcony in the back in a Tester shirt and a veterans hat, booing Trump throughout his speech.

A number of protesters gathered outside the rally. (Eric Peterson/The Electric)

While Trump was holding the rally in Great Falls, Tester was holding a listening session in Billings on the impact of tariffs in Montana. Tester farms in Big Sandy and is a retired school teacher.

After the rally, Tester’s campaign released the following statement: “Montanans want someone who will roll up their sleeves and go to work fighting for Montana. Jon’s record is clear — if it’s good for Montana, Jon works with anyone from either party to get things done. If it’s bad for Montana, he’ll stand up to anyone. East Coast developer Matt Rosendale is only looking out for himself and whatever out-of-state special interest group that is propping up his campaign with cash. We can’t trust him to defend Montana.”

Later in his remarks, Trump highlighted the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act as landmark legislation. That bill was sponsored by Tester.

Donald Trump Jr. joined his father at the rally and before his father arrived, he said he’ll be making more trips to Montana this fall to campaign for Republican congressional candidates.

Said the president: “I won Montana by so many points that I don’t have to come here.”

In 2016, Trump won Montana by more than 100,000 votes over Hillary Clinton. In 2012, Tester got 236,123 votes to Denny Rehberg’s 218,051.

On North Korea, Trump said he gets along with Kim Jong-un and “that’s a good thing.” He said the denuclearization of North Korea is “gonna all happen.”

Jumping to Russia and Vladimir Putin since he’s meeting one-on-on with Putin later this month, Trump said “you know what, Putin’s fine.”

The media, Trump said, focuses on whether he’ll be prepared for such a meeting. “I’m totally prepared,” he said.

Trump supporters had plenty of red hats to choose from at vendors outside the venue. (Eric Peterson/The Electric)

On immigration, Trump said that people need to enter the country legally and through a merit system.

“If you want borders … wouldn’t it be nice to have borders,” Trump said and the crowd started chanting “build that wall.”

On trade, Trump said he will “bring back our wealth from foreign countries. We’re the bank everybody’s stealing from.”

Trump said he’s also “saving the military” and “we’re going to win like we’ve never won before.” He said he is working to create a sixth branch of the U.S. military to focus on space, to be dubbed the Space Force.

“It’s not just sending rockets to the moon,” he said. “We need a separate branch.”

When he runs for re-election in 2020, Trump said the slogan will be “Keep America Great.”

But first, Trump encouraged people to “get your ass out to vote … vote for Matt.”

Trump left the fairgrounds after the rally and Air Force One flew over Great Falls shortly after 6 p.m.

Supporters of Sen. Jon Tester voiced their unhappiness with the president’s policies outside Thursday’s rally. (Eric Peterson/The Electric)

After Trump left and people were emptying the arena, Connie Anderson of Fairfield was still riding high.

She had been standing against the railings around the stage, roughly 20 feet from the president.

“I absolutely loved it,” she said. “There’s nothing like seeing him in person.”

She said could see every time Trump went off the prompter and enjoyed hearing him speak off the cuff.

Anderson said Tester has been in the Senate long enough and Rosendale gets her vote.

Jobs, securing the border and veterans are among her top issues, she said.

The Four Seasons Arena was packed to capacity, somewhere between 6,500 and 7,000 people, according to county officials.

There were still hundreds to thousands, depending on who you asked, outside the arena once the capacity limit was reached.

One person was arrested outside the arena after an altercation with the protestors, but for the most part, there were no major issues, according to the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office.

On Friday, county staff will be cleaning up and removing barriers to prepare for the state fair, according to Brian Clifton, county public works director.

He said about 15 people from his department worked to prepare the parking lot and the arena for the event.

The CCSO and the Great Falls Police Department and Great Falls Fire Rescue all had additional staff on duty for Thursday’s event and that will impact government budgets, according to local officials.