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Gianforte: Montana's U.S. House race a referendum on Trump administration

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The sprint is on in Montana's special Congressional election set for May 25, 2017.

As of Tuesday, the special election to fill Montana's vacant house seat is just 72 days away.

Billings and Yellowstone County promise to key battleground in this short Congressional race.

Republican nominee Greg Gianforte paid a visit to the Magic City Tuesday, hitting the campaign trail fresh off his endorsement by the state republican party at it's nominating convention last week.

Among seven candidates, Gianforte won support from 60 percent of the delegates, on the first ballot..

"All eyes will be Montana," said Gianforte.  "This will be a race of national significance.  It will be a referendum on President Trump's administration."

Democratic nominee Rob Quist, Montana musician turned Congressional hopeful, has also made Billings a focal point of his emerging campaign.

Quist made the interview rounds and held a fundraiser in the Magic City last week, just days after securing the democratic nomination, out polling seven other candidates.

This week the focus of the campaign is squarely on health care, as the new GOP Healthcare bill goes under the microscope on Capitol Hill. 

With the Congressional Budget Office forecasting that 14 million Americans would lose their insurance under the new bill, the political heat is rising.

"I think we can do better than the program that's on the table today," said Gianforte.

"It's clear to me that there are aspects of Obama Care that are good.  We need to protect people with pre-existing conditions, and we need to make sure that we have a safety net for people that can't take care of themselves," Gianforte said.  

The day after the CBO report made headlines,  Quist called on Gianforte to distance himself from the republican proposal.

"This report confirms that D.C. Republican's plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act will take away health insurance from hard-working Montanans, to give tax breaks to millionaires like Greg Gianforte," Quist said.   "Montanans deserve better," 

Quist says he'll stand up for Montana values and work to find a solution that benefits all Montanans.

As for the short two and half month campaign, Montanans should brace themselves for a barrage of TV attack ads, many of which have already hit the airwaves.

The Congressional Leadership Fund (LCF) a super PAC aligned with the House GOP leadership, is spending $700,000 attacking Quist.

The ad knocks the musician for being "out of tune" and "too liberal" for Montana, and was on the air the day after Quist secured the democratic nomination.

The ad is airing on cable and broadcast across Montana, as well as on digital platforms.

In his recent near-miss in Montana's Governor's race, Gianforte spent more than $5 million dollars of his own money.

Asked Tuesday how much his race for the House will cost him. Gianforte deflected the question, saying this is not about him.

Pressed further on what it will cost to pull off the sprint to the U.S. House. Gianforte again did not venture a specific dollar figure.

"I don't know for sure.  The reality is it's important to get the message out," said Gianforte.

"We were faced with an awful lot of out-of-state, special interest money in that Governor's race," Gianforte explained.  "I don't think that's what Montanans want."

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