White House Gears Up Campaigning For District 18 Special Election

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Leading up to Tuesday's special election, Democrat Conor Lamb is in a strong position to capture the district in the southwestern part of the state, where Trump won by 20 points in 2016 and Democrats didn't even run a candidate in the last two congressional elections.

President Donald Trump has always been scheduled to rally voters on Saturday behind Republican congressional candidate Rick Saccone, a state representative whose underwhelming campaign has some Washington-based Republicans fearing the worst. But in the weeks to come, the National Republican Congressional Committee quietly dispatched a staffer to the district to walk Saccone, who lacked any donor infrastructure, through the basics of how to fundraise.

A source familiar with the inner-workings of Saccone's campaign has said that tariffs are not an issue that moves the needle for them, largely because his Democratic opponent Conor Lamb is also supportive of the tariffs.

But if Saccone loses, it would be the second special election in three months in which Trump campaigned hard for a GOP candidate only for him to lose.

The President's moves on tariffs this week were, in part, created to gin up support for Saccone; Trump has told associates that he hopes the tariffs will play well with his base, including voters in Pennsylvania 18th District around Pittsburgh and in the heart of America's steel industry.

Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigned on Lamb's behalf earlier in the week, but national Democrats were not expected to bring in additional high-profile surrogates in the campaign's waning days. It has voted Republican in five consecutive presidential elections; in those, George W. Bush (twice), John McCain, Mitt Romney and Donald Trump carried it with 49.7, 53.3, 55.2, 57.9 and 58.1 percent, respectively. We've got his son.

"Everybody wants to help", the Republican candidate continued. Southwest Pennsylvania, as much as any place, made Trump president.

"Take a look what's happening", Biden said of the GOP in the Trump era. And the sting of the GOP's embarrassing December defeat in Alabama's special Senate race, in which Trump lent his name and time to failed Republican nominee Roy Moore, is still fresh.

Less has been made about the Republican candidate, Rick Saccone, because he's turned out to be pretty bad.

Biden commended Lamb for withstanding "one of the biggest barrages of negative campaign advertising".

"The story of this race is that candidates and campaigns matter", said Corry Bliss, the executive director of the Congressional Leadership Fund.

The Office of Special Counsel, which is unrelated to Robert Mueller's office, said Conway violated the Hatch Act twice previous year when she spoke out in support of Moore in Alabama's Senate race. They need a net gain of 24 seats, and the party holding the White House has averaged a net loss of 26 in midterm elections since the end of World War II.

Lamb, meanwhile, shrugged off news of the White House's final-week offensive when asked late Wednesday. Just trust me, I would kick his ass. It's people that are from here talking to neighbors and going to their churches. "So I think it's long overdue", Lamb said then. Invoking a military slogan, he said a Lamb victory would send a message across the country.