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Trump botches the election scorecard again

Trump botches the election scorecard again

In this Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, photo, Conor Lamb, the Democratic candidate for the March 13 special election in Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District, talks about his campaign at his headquarters in Mount Lebanon, Pa.

The race in the 18th Congressional District, between Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican Rick Saccone, is by all accounts tight. In the 2016 USA presidential election, Trump won the district by about 20 percentage points over Democrat Hillary Clinton. To back that up, Lamb opposes sweeping gun restrictions, endorses Trump's new steel tariffs, avoids attacking the president, and tells voters he wouldn't back Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California for speaker if Democrats won a House majority.

"We need Republicans. We need the vote", Mr Trump said, saying Democrats would take away, among other things, the right to bear firearms.

Lamb, a 33-year-old Marine veteran and former prosecutor, has positioned himself as more representative of the district than Saccone, a 60-year-old state lawmaker. Democrats are targeting dozens of districts where the president got a lower vote share than the 58 percent he received in Pennsylvania's 18th District 16 months ago.

"Some countries have a very tough penalty, the ultimate penalty, and they have much less of a drug problem than we do", he explained during a White House summit on March 1.

Lamb winning would be "egg on the face of the president" and "a really big deal", said Philip Harold, a political scientist at Robert Morris University in suburban Pittsburgh.

Trump is not a fan of the congressional hopeful and privately disparaged Saccone as a bad candidate, calling him "weak", according to a report last night by Axios. "I also don't support Paul Ryan".

But Lamb's local campaign has pulled in more money than Saccone's, and is riding a tide of grassroots enthusiasm that has brought Lamb within striking distance of his more experienced opponent.

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Lamb keeps to party orthodoxy on unions.

The groups sought to yoke Lamb to Pelosi and criticized him for opposing the 2017 tax-cut law written by Republicans.

He said it was crucial for Republicans to muster forces to turn back a strong Democratic drive to win one or both houses of the US Congress in November midterm elections. State Democrats chose him as the party's nominee in the special election in November, weeks after Murphy's resignation. "He's good with the Second Amendment". Murphy resigned in October amid a sex scandal.

Saccone has underwhelmed national Republicans, particularly with fundraising. (The move is widely unpopular among members of his own party.) The working-class district is home to roughly 17,000 voters who are either steelworkers or their relatives, the sorts of folks Trump pledged to prioritize during his presidential campaign.

Trump also praised the economy, citing the Friday jobs report as evidence of the success of the Republican tax plan.

"And Conor Lamb - Lamb the Sham - he's trying to act like a Republican", Trump said.

Trump held that opinion of Saccone before leaving for the rally, and I've not been able to establish whether his time on the ground with the candidate changed his mind. "He's going to vote the party line". I don't know if we're ready.


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