BETHEL PARK, Pa. (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence stumped on Friday for a Republican congressional candidate and slammed his Democratic opponent, trying to help the GOP keep the seat in its House majority in the first congressional race of the year.
The seat is open because the anti-abortion Republican who held it, Tim Murphy, quit after his hometown newspaper reported he had suggested a mistress get an abortion when they thought she might be pregnant.
Pence addressed about 150 supporters on Friday at a community center in Bethel Park, a borough of greater Pittsburgh. He said state legislator Rick Saccone stands with President Donald Trump's agenda, including the recently passed tax bill, but ex-federal prosecutor Conor Lamb doesn't stand with Trump or support those tax cuts.
"And, folks, that says everything you need to know," Pence said.
He stood onstage with Saccone, who said Trump has put the U.S. "on the right path."
Lamb's campaign manager, Abby Murphy, said later: "Conor wants a tax cut where most of the benefits go to the hardworking families of the district instead of the richest 1 percent."
Pence spoke later in Pittsburgh to a gathering hosted by the nonprofit group America First Policies, formed last year by his and Trump's political advisers. His address to Republican supporters and his motorcade to the second gathering ran late after he held private meet-and-greet sessions and photo opportunities with supporters.
Saccone, 59, is an Air Force veteran who said his sons are in the Air Force now. Pence emphasized the Trump administration increases in defense spending and Saccone's military record.
Lamb, 33, is a Marine Corps veteran.
The congressional district, won easily by Trump in the 2016 presidential election, includes parts of four counties mostly south of Pittsburgh. The special election to fill the seat, vacated by Murphy last fall, is March 13.
Millions of super political action committee dollars are pouring in from outside groups to help Saccone, Federal Election Commission filings show.
The Pennsylvania Republican Party chairman, Val DiGiorgio, told people at the Pence gathering the nation is watching and they can reverse the conventional wisdom that they should lose midterm elections.