WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump is set to campaign on Saturday in Pennsylvania steel country for a Republican congressional candidate who is in a tight race in a district that Trump won resoundingly in the 2016 election.
Trump was to speak shortly after 7 p.m. EST (midnight GMT) at a “Make America Great Again” rally in a hangar at the Pittsburgh International Airport on behalf of Republican candidate Rick Saccone.
Saccone is trying to win an election on Tuesday in Pennsylvania’s 18th District to replace Republican Tim Murphy, who resigned last fall while enmeshed in a sex scandal.
Saccone is competing against Democrat Conor Lamb and polls show a close race. Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway campaigned for Saccone on Thursday at a Lincoln Day dinner in Allegheny County.
If Saccone loses, it would be a blow to Trump, the first loss by Republicans of a seat in the House of Representatives since he took office in January 2017. The results will not affect Republican control of the chamber.
The race could be an indicator of Trump’s ability to help Republican congressional candidates as they try to hang on to control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate in midterm elections next November.
Typically the party that controls the White House loses seats in the U.S. Congress in the first election after a new president takes office. But Trump hopes a strong economy and tax cuts he pushed through Congress in December will help him beat the odds.
White House officials hope that Trump’s announcement on Thursday that he is imposing import tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum will buoy prospects for Saccone in a district that Trump won by 20 percentage points in the November 2016 presidential election.
(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by James Dalgleish)