NEWS
05/11/2017 12:28 EDT | Updated 05/11/2017 14:21 EDT

Trump Jr. urges support for Greg Gianforte in US House race

EAST HELENA, Mont. — Donald Trump Jr., the president's son, returned to Montana on Thursday for rallies across the state to support the congressional bid of Republican Greg Gianforte, who he said was needed in Washington to help advance the agenda of the Trump White House.

"We need more people in D.C. to help my father," he said during a rally in East Helena, the second stop in a four-city campaign swing on behalf of Gianforte.

"The deck is really stacked. It's stacked against us. By the way, even from people in our own party. We've all seen that," Trump Jr. said.

Gianforte is making a bid to become the state's only representative in the U.S. House, a post that became vacated when Ryan Zinke became President Donald Trump's Interior secretary. He is vying for the seat against Democrat Rob Quist and Libertarian Mark Wicks.

With just two weeks left before the May 25 special election, Gianforte and Quist are hoping to harness the star power of the country's political elites to help draw voters to the polls and more cash into their campaign coffers.

Two protesters were forced out of the rally after one of them, Mark Girdler of Helena, disrupted Trump Jr. while the president's son excoriated the news media as "dishonest."

"How about your dad's tax returns? I'd like to see them," the protester shouted, amid jeers from the crowd of about 300.

Trump Jr. responded saying that the president made $150 million and paid $45 million in taxes, noting the 2005 tax returns obtained and published in March by MSNBC. The tax returns obtained by "The Rachel Maddow Show" indicated the president paid $38 million in taxes on earnings of $150 million.

"I want to see all his tax returns," Girdler said in an interview afterward. "I want to see to what extent he has foreign financial dealings. I'm especially concerned about his Russia ties."

Girdler called himself a reluctant supporter of the Quist campaign.

Quist has also questioned Gianforte's investments in index funds that include Russian firms under sanction by the U.S. government because of Russia's annexation of Crimea.

Gianforte's campaign has scoffed at suggestions that he had any direct ties to the Russian government.

At their stop in East Helena, Trump and Gianforte touted their support for gun rights, which has become a central theme in the Bozeman entrepreneur's campaign. They tried to cast Quist as out of touch with Montanan's conservative values while drawing financial support from liberals from the East and West coasts.

It was Trump's Jr. second foray into Montana in recent weeks.

Vice-President Mike Pence is scheduled to speak to Gianforte supporters at a 6 p.m. rally on Friday at the MetraPark pavilion in Billings. Before the campaign event, the vice-president is expected to visit the Westmoreland Coal Company's Absaloka Mine on the Crow Indian Reservation, as well as take part in a "business listening session," his office announced.

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who won Montana in last year's Democratic primary against eventual nominee Hillary Clinton, plans to visit the state in support of the Quist campaign. Details of that visit, however, have yet to be announced.