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Vice President Pence points to the crowd

Vice President Mike Pence points at veterans in the crowd as he addresses health care during a campaign rally for Greg Gianforte at the Montana Pavilion at MetraPark on Friday, May 12.

Vice President Mike Pence will be in Billings at the end of the month to campaign on behalf of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Matt Rosendale.

Rosendale spokesman Shane Scanlon confirmed the visit Thursday evening, saying "The Trump administration has made it clear that they're all in for Matt Rosendale and we're excited to have Vice President Mike Pence back in Montana."

Pence previously came to Montana in May 2017 to campaign for then-candidate Greg Gianforte in the special election for Montana's U.S. House seat. He later toured a Crow coal mine.

Trump came to Montana as part of an effort by conservatives to unseat 10 Democrats seeking re-election in states the president won in 2016. Trump, who worked to paint Tester as a liberal more tied to the national party than Montana, carried the state by 20 points in that election.

Tester is also in Trump’s crosshairs over the controversy surrounding the president’s first nominee to be secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson.

Tester made public accusations by former service members who complained of inappropriate behavior by Jackson, who later withdrew his nomination. In April Trump retaliated, saying Tester would have a price to pay.

During the rally, Trump went after Tester several times, but also praised reforms from two of Tester's bills targeted at fixing problems at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. However, the president did not tout Tester's connection to the legislation at the rally.

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An invitation to the Billings event distributed Thursday listed ticket costs for the evening. A VIP reception ticket is $500 per person; a VIP photo package is $5,000 per couple and includes two tickets to the reception and a photo opportunity. Tickets to attend a roundtable are $10,000 per couple and include a photo opportunity and access to the reception.

The event is put on by the Rosendale Majority Committee, a joint fundraising committee including Matt Rosendale for Montana, the Montana Republican State Central Committee and the National Republican Senate Committee. Buying a ticket equates to a donation to the fundraising group.

Tester's campaign spokesman issued the following statement after the visit was announced.

“Matt Rosendale has to keep bringing in outsiders because he can’t stand on his own record," said Chris Meagher. "His record is as bad as it is crystal clear — he’s voted against Montana’s veterans over and over, and he’s against expanding public access to public lands. That’s a record anyone running for office in Montana would be trying to hide.”

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State Bureau reporter for The Independent Record.

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