Pence campaigns in Montana special election, rides horse

Vice President Pence sought to rally voters around Republican Greg Gianforte in Montana on Friday ahead of a special House election that has drawn increased national attention in recent weeks.

“We need more allies in Congress to make America great again, and we need Greg Gianforte,” Pence told a crowd of hundreds in Billings. 

Gianforte is facing off against Democrat Rob Quist and Libertarian Mark Wicks in a special election to fill the state’s lone House seat previously held by Ryan Zinke, who now serves as head of the Interior Department.

The at-large seat has been held by a Republican for two decades and President Trump won the state in 2016 by 20 points. But Democrats, energized by Trump’s low approval ratings and sinking support for the GOP-controlled Congress, have amped up their efforts in Montana. 

In his stump speech for Gianforte on Friday, Pence avoided addressing the controversies that have roiled the Trump administration in recent days, touting instead the president’s accomplishments in his first 100 days in office.

Pence was joined on the trip by Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Zinke, who at the same rally urged Montana voters to pick Gianforte as his replacement. 

Ahead of the rally on Friday, Pence, Daines and Zinke toured the Westmoreland Coal Company’s Absaloka Mine on horseback, also meeting with Crow Nation leaders on the tribe’s reservation.