Montana's U.S. House race brings partisan divide to the fore

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FILE In this Nov. 6, 2018, file photo, Matt Rosendale greets supporters in Helena, Montana. In the race for Montana's lone U.S. House seat, Republican Matt Rosendale faces opponent Democrat Kathleen Williams. (AP Photo/Eliza Wiley, File)

HELENA, Mont. – In the race for Montana’s lone U.S. House seat, Republican Matt Rosendale is hitching his wagon to President Donald Trump even as the president's national approval ratings worsen.

Rosendale talks glowingly about Trump's actions since COVID-19 hit the United States, while many have criticized his response to the coronavirus — including Rosendale's opponent.

Democrat Kathleen Williams slams the federal response to the virus, even in Trump country, saying states like Montana were left without federal support as they sought to develop testing strategies that would permit them to reopen their economies while limiting the spread of the virus.

“I think we could have responded much more effectively if there had been some leadership at the federal level on that,” she told The Associated Press.

Williams said there has been a lack of leadership on this issue from Montana’s U.S. House seat, which is currently occupied by Republican Greg Gianforte.

“We’re just seeing nothing, and it’s frustrating,” she said.

Rosendale celebrated the president’s decision to limit travel to and from China in late January and his efforts to reopen the economy. “He was very decisive in the very beginning of this,” he told AP. “I think he’s been very prudent, and very effective.”

Trump endorsed Rosendale in February and made four trips to Montana to drum up support for him when he unsuccessfully tried to unseat Democrat U.S. Sen. Jon Tester in 2018. Rosendale lost that race by 4 points.