The official purpose of President’s Donald Trump trip to the Pittsburgh-area today was to tout the GOP tax plan he recently signed into law. But it was also an opportunity to show support for the Republican competing in the special election for the 18th Congressional District south of the Steel City.
Trump, who tweeted his endorsement of state Rep. Rick Saccone early Thursday, talked about his new tax reform law next to the Pennsylvania incumbent at H&K Equipment in North Fayette. The White House quickly issued a statement saying the president was visiting Allegheny County to promote tax cuts, not campaign.
Will be going to Pennsylvania today in order to give my total support to RICK SACCONE, running for Congress in a Special Election (March 13). Rick is a great guy. We need more Republicans to continue our already successful agenda!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2018
Saccone told the crowd Trump's struggling approval ratings can't hurt his own campaign.
"This is Trump country," Saccone said. "Remember, Pennsylvania put President Trump over the top, [and] western Pennsylvania put Pennsylvania over the top. So this is ground zero for Trump country, and everyone's happy to have him here."
— An-Li Herring (@anliherring) January 18, 2018
Saccone faces Democrat Conor Lamb, a former Marine, and Libertarian attorney Drew Gray Miller in the March 13 special election. The seat opened when Republican Tim Murphy resigned last year after acknowledging an extramarital affair.
Democrats are looking for a win to build on their Senate victory in conservative Alabama and lay the groundwork for gains in November's midterm contests.
90.5 WESA's An-Li Herring contributed to this report.