Trump tells Missoula crowd: Republicans need stronger majorities in Congress

“We have to have more votes so we can put in strong, conservative, Republican, but common sense, it’s not even Republican conservative – it’s common sense policy,” President Donald Trump told supporters in Missoula Thursday night. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)

While rallying the GOP vote in Missoula Thursday evening, President Donald Trump emphasized the differences between Democrats and Republicans, namely immigration, health care, environmental regulations and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Air Force One landed just as the sun was slipping behind the Bitterroot Mountains and thousands of restless supporters – some having waited for four hours inside the Minuteman Aviation hangar – eagerly turned toward the runway to watch a cavalcade of white vans and black limousines usher Trump to the stage.

After nodding to the handpicked fans who would stand behind him for the next 90 minutes, Trump greeted the rest of the crowd, saying how happy he was to address thousands of “loyal, hardworking, incredible American patriots” who helped him win the presidency two years ago.

Trump asked the crowd to do the same in November by electing Matt Rosendale to the U.S. Senate and Rep. Greg Gianforte to his second term.

With Rosendale joining Montana Sen. Steve Daines, Trump said he could possibly confirm one, two or even four more Supreme Court justices.

“You keep hearing that we have a majority,” the president said. “We have a majority that if somebody has a cold, if somebody is not feeling well, we lose our majority.

“We have to have more votes so we can put in strong, conservative, Republican, but common sense, it’s not even Republican conservative – it’s common sense policy.”

A Trump supporter arrives at the rally at Missoula International Airport waiving his flags off the back of his pickup truck. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)

Trump went on to call Democrats an “angry mob” who treated Justice Brett Kavanaugh unfairly during his recent Supreme Court confirmation.

“Democrats produce mobs, Republicans produce jobs,” Trump intoned to the delight of the crowd.

He called out Montana senior Sen. Jon Tester for voting against both Kavanaugh and Trump’s earlier Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch.

Tester said he voted against Gorsuch because he tended to judge cases in a way that empowers corporations over individuals. He said no to Kavanaugh on a wide range of issues, ranging from the PATRIOT Act to sexual assault allegations dating to the judge’s high school and college years.

That wasn’t Trump’s only beef with Tester. Tester voted to let drugs into Montana by voting against Kate’s Law, Trump said, and he voted in favor of “deadly” sanctuary cities.

Kate’s Law, if passed, was a Trump priority that would have required prison sentences for up to two years for undocumented immigrants with arrests who re-enter the U.S.

A closely associated bill would have cut off some federal grants from sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with immigration authorities. Both bills passed the House on mostly party line votes.

But most importantly, Trump chided Tester for voting against the president’s nominee to head the Department of Veterans Affairs, Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson, in April.

“That’s really why I’m here,” Trump said. “It’s not that we need the vote so badly. I think we’ll do very nicely in the Senate – I think we’ll pick up seats. I have a lot of respect for the man who’s running, Matt. But I can never forget what Jon Tester did to this man.”

Tester, ranking member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, voted against Jackson after hearing reports of Jackson being drunk on the job and over-prescribing prescription drugs.

Trump supporters gather at Minuteman Aviation, where they’d spend several hours waiting for Air Force One to touch down and President Donald Trump to take the stage. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)

Trump invited Matt Rosendale to join him on the stage and Rosendale took swings at his opponent, blaming Tester for not voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“I will never give up on repealing and replacing Obamacare,” Rosendale said. “Remember, when Jon Tester talks about supporting the Second Amendment, remember he voted for liberal judges who will take your guns away.”

Rosendale isn’t the only congressional Republican vying for election in November, and Trump also asked the crowd to support Rep. Greg Gianforte in his race against Democratic challenger and former Bozeman state legislator Kathleen Williams.

Trump warned the crowd that Williams is a “radical far-left Democrat” who would “massively raise your taxes” and who supports open borders.

“Greg is smart. And by the way, never wrestle with him. Any guy that can do a body slam like that,” Trump said. “I heard that he body-slammed a reporter. He was way up, and I said, ‘Oh this is terrible, he’ll lose the election.’ And then I said, ‘I know Montana pretty well, I think it might help him.’”

During his speech, Trump wandered through a number of his favorite talking points, from Hilliary Clinton’s emails to fake news to being accused of colluding with the Russians.

But Trump always returned to the need to elect more Republicans to Congress to cut taxes and regulations. He said Republicans would protect Social Security and Medicare, even though Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday said he needed to cut Social Security and Medicaid to offset the $1.5 trillion tax cut Congress approved earlier this year.

“A vote for a Republican Congress is a vote for more jobs, more wealth and more products made right here, like in the old days, in the U.S.A,” Trump said.

Air Force One sits parked outside Minuteman Aviation at Missoula International Airport on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)