Republicans struggle to salvage congressional seat in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf speaks during the panel Caring for our Veterans at the National Governor Association winter meeting on Sunday Feb. 25 2018 in Washington

Republicans struggle to salvage congressional seat in Pennsylvania

Saccone, who was endorsed by and campaigned with President Donald Trump on Saturday, continued the campaign trail with Donald Trump Jr. on the eve of the election.

Democrat Conor Lamb, right, and Republican Rick Saccone speak before the taping of their first debate in the special election in the PA 18th Congressional District at the KDKA TV studios, Monday, Feb. 19, 2018, in Pittsburgh.

"Words matter", he said on NBC's "Meet the Press", whose host, Chuck Todd, had been the subject of some of Trump's most virulent tongue-lashing, including being called a "sleeping son of a bitch".

"The Democrats have nominated the ideal candidate, because he fits the profile of the electorate".

The bulk of the president's remarks focused more on a reboot of the "Make America Great Again" campaign in a review of what he has done - and will do - in office, such as touting the tax cuts he signed past year, and talking about his decision to accept talks with North Korea over the country's nuclear program. The White House has also dispatched Vice President Mike Pence, Kellyanne Conway and Donald Trump stump in the district.

But the dynamics have changed in the district, which runs from wealthy suburbs south of Pittsburgh through hardscrabble steel and coal mining towns to farmlands along the West Virginia border. In early January, Saccone led polling by 12-points, according to a RealClear Politics roundup.

Lamb has run as an independent-minded figure.

Polls show Lamb and Saccone in a tight race ahead of Tuesday's special House election.

"This is a time in our country where many of our most important promises seem to be up for grabs".

Both Lamb and Saccone said they support the president's steel tariff. If the seat becomes vacant in the second year, you'll just have to wait until Election Day in November. Almost 70% of them voted for President Donald Trump in 2016, impelled by his populist fervor and his promise to restore greatness to these left-behind American hinterlands.

"When President Trump's in your corner, how can you lose?"

Republican congressional candidate Rick Saccone is getting more support from the First Family. And if Pelosi were in charge of the House, Trump said, Lamb would simply "vote the party line".

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"I haven't been this excited about a congressional election in years", she says. If Saccone holds on, it will show that Republicans might have a chance to stave off disaster.

TRUMP: Regulation, tax cuts, federal judges, a great, great Supreme Court.

Republicans see the president's plans to impose steel and aluminum import tariffs as a way to generate enough enthusiasm among Trump's blue-collar supporters to counteract the energy of Lamb's backers.

"The knock on young voters is that they don't turn out", Mikus said.

Saccone has indicated his interest in running again to represent the current 18th district's closest geographic approximation - what will then be the deep-red 14th Congressional District - despite the fact that he will not technically live in the district.

Lamb, who has the backing of unionized steelworkers, says he agrees with the planned tariffs. Lamb's campaign released a television ad March 8 endorsing background checks.

Republicans have also found it harder than expected to mount effective attacks on Lamb's positions on abortion, guns and the national Democratic Party. Lamb touts his resume and declares that he wouldn't vote for Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi as party leader. But Lamb did get help from former Vice President Joe Biden, a favorite among Rust Belt Democrats. As a devout Catholic, he personally opposes abortion, though he said he respects that "choice is the law of the land".

They're competing to replace GOP Rep. Tim Murphy, who resigned in October. No Democrat challenged Murphy the last two cycles and Trump (and Mitt Romney and John McCain before him) won it handily - in the 20-point range - in presidential years. Though the District has been Republican-held since 2003, the Democrat in the race has gained traction.

His biggest concern going into Tuesday's election and also as the 2018 midterms approach was making sure the voters who got his father elected by coming out to vote don't get complacent.

Saccone says he was feeling good on this last day of campaigning.

Republican groups from outside the state have given Mr Saccone donations of $9m.

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