The three candidates in Montana’s U.S. House race – Greg Gianforte (R), Elinor Swanson (L), and Kathleen Williams (D) — squared off on Saturday night in their first debate of the campaign season.
As expected, Gianforte – the incumbent – spent plenty of time talking about his allegiance to President Donald Trump – and how the policies of the president and Republicans in Congress have led to a strong economy.
Gianforte: “We have delivered results for Montana. You see it in the economy. We have more jobs than we have people looking for work. Wages are going up. Unemployment’s down. This is all good news. This election truly is a question between results, working with President Trump, as I’ll do, and resistance, and working with Nancy Pelosi and going back to the failed polices of the Obama era.”
Williams did her best to counter this argument, and specifically took after the Republican tax-cut bill.
Williams: “The tax giveaway is benefiting the wealthy. 83% of the benefit goes to the top 1 percent.”
The debate also featured Libertarian Elinor Swanson. When asked why voters should consider the party, despite the fact that its candidates rarely win anything in Montana, Swanson said the party is getting more vibrant in Montana and elsewhere.
Swanson: “We have almost 200 elected representatives around the country; Montana has the most Libertarians per capita of any state. This year we have 23 people running. We have an immense, just upsurge of support and excitement for the Libertarian Party.”
Gianforte accused Williams of supporting sanctuary cities – and said Democrats’ support or Medicare for all will bankrupt the country.
Williams, however, said the sanctuary city charge is false – and that Gianforte has no health care plan, while she does.
Williams: “All Montanans need to have the opportunity for affordable, accessible health care. And I have a fairly detailed plan on how we can get to that including allowing people 55 and older to be able to buy into Medicare. Congressman Gianforte expressed support for the Graham-Cassidy bill that would have prohibited the protection for pre-existing conditions, it would have raised costs on our seniors and it would have knocked thousands of Montanans of their medical care.”
But Gianforte’s message, loud and clear, is that he not only stands with the president, but has his ear, too – on issues such as tariffs that may be hurting Montana ag.
Gianforte: “I’ve had a chance to talk to the president twice, face to face on this, and my encouragement to him was to bring these trade negotiations to a close. I’ve said all along I don’t favor broad-based tariffs.”