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President Donald Trump's fourth rally in Montana in four months will be Saturday in Bozeman at the ER-3 Hangar at the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport.

The rally will start at 12:30 p.m.; doors open at 9:30 a.m. Trump is also holding a rally in Pensacola, Florida, the same day at 4:30 p.m. Mountain time.

Trump is coming to Montana an unprecedented fourth time to campaign on behalf of state Auditor Matt Rosendale, a Republican who is trying to unseat two-term incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester.

The race between Tester and Rosendale is expected to be tight, and already more than $60 million has been spent by candidates and outside groups.

At a rally just two weeks ago in Missoula, Trump attacked Tester and praised U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, a Republican who is also seeking re-election in this year's midterm, for his assault of a reporter in May 2017. Gianforte is running against former state lawmaker Kathleen Williams, a Democrat. Both live in Bozeman.

At the Missoula rally, Trump also said he's focused so much time and attention on the Montana U.S. Senate race because of Tester's role in the failed nomination of Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson to run the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. After Trump nominated Jackson, who was also his doctor as president, in April to run the massive agency, Tester made public several allegations of inappropriate behavior by Jackson. That included drinking while on the job and improperly prescribing medications. 

Jackson eventually withdrew his nomination and is under investigation by the Pentagon. Tester supported Trump's next nominee, Robert Wilkie, who is now in the job. But the issue stuck with Trump and the president has held a vendetta against Tester.

Trump has also held rallies in Great Falls in July and Billings in September. His surrogates, including Vice President Mike Pence and son Donald Trump Jr. have visited the state multiple times as well.

Rosendale, who has campaigned on his unwavering support of Trump, released a statement Monday welcoming the visit.

“President Trump knows how important it is that we defeat Jon Tester this November and that’s why he’s making this historic fourth visit back to Montana to campaign for us,” Rosendale said. “It’s a tremendous honor to have President Trump’s full support and now we must rally behind him and win this race.”

Tester, who has also campaigned in part by pointing out the number of bills he's written or co-sponsored that Trump has signed or praised, has in the past said he wants Trump to spend more time in the state beyond just the rallies and see some the issues facing people here. He's also taken out television, print and digital ads in advance of each visit. 

On Monday his campaign spokesman released a statement saying Rosendale is using the rallies to district from his record as state insurance commissioner, specifically his support of short-term health insurance plans and a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Health care has become a focus of Democrats during this election, as concern about losing guaranteed coverage for people with pre-existing conditions has risen after failed attempts by Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act since Trump took office.

“Insurance Commissioner Matt Rosendale can keep trying to distract from his record," spokesman Chris Meagher said. "… Matt Rosendale isn’t looking out for Montana families, he’s looking out for himself.”

The location of the fourth rally location, Bozeman, puts Trump in a county critical for this election. Gallatin County, of which Bozeman is the seat, is expected to be a swing county in the U.S. Senate race.

Tester will also be in Bozeman Thursday and Friday holding previously scheduled get-out-the-vote events.

While Montana has turned more red county-by-county in presidential elections during the past few cycles, that's not true of Gallatin County. Former President Barack Obama won there in 2008 but lost in 2012. Trump lost to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by 444 votes in 2016.

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In his first race in 2006, Tester narrowly lost the county but won it by 10 points in 2012. As the population of Montana State University has boomed during the past several years, the influx of students has brought what political observers say is a Democratic voting bloc, if the younger voters show up at the polls.

Already 47 percent of absentee voters statewide have returned their ballots, bringing overall turnout to 28 percent. This year there are a record 703,610 registered voters in the state. Nearly 22,000 people have already voted in Gallatin County out of just more than 79,000 registered voters. 

Rosendale is campaigning in Bozeman on Wednesday with U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina who put himself in the spotlight during the contentious confirmation process for now U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Graham angrily condemned the hearing process where Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who accused the judge of sexual assault, both testified before a Senate committee. In the weeks following, he's characterized those who protested the confirmation as an angry "mob" and at a campaign rally Saturday for Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nevada, said the "radical left" that is "trying to destroy this country" could "kiss my a--."

Trump likewise characterized Democrats during his Missoula rally, saying, "Democrats produce mobs. Republicans produce jobs."

Such rhetoric has prompted accusations of divisiveness, but in the weeks since that event, the political chasm in the country has only widened as a Florida man was arrested for sending bombs through the mail to prominent Democratic lawmakers and critics of Trump.

Since being elected, Trump has held 53 rallies in 23 states. Nineteen of those rallies have been since Labor Day, and by the election he’ll have held 30 since Labor Day.

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State Bureau reporter for The Independent Record.

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