Rick Saccone, the Republican running in a close Pennsylvania special election for a congressional seat, is backing President Donald Trump’s move to slap steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
“If other countries aren’t playing by the rules and tariffs are needed to protect steel and aluminum jobs in Southwestern Pennsylvania, Rick would support those measures,” Saccone spokesman Patrick McCann said in an email.
His comment underscored how Trump’s announcement could help Republicans hold onto a House seat in western Pennsylvania, the heart of the American steel industry.
The special election pitting Saccone against Democrat Conor Lamb is set for March 13, with Trump planning to make another trip to the district, which he won by 20 percentage points in 2016, ahead of the contest.
Republicans have invested heavily to hold the seat, with the National Republican Congressional Committee and super PACs aligned with Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan all spending millions on TV ads attacking Lamb. Lamb, meanwhile, has proven a small-dollar fundraising success, outraising Saccone almost five-to so far in 2018.
The tariff move, which Trump surprised White House aides by making Thursday, was otherwise lambasted by usually-supportive Republican senators, even in manufacturing-heavy states.
But McCann said Saccone “supports free trade as long as it’s fair,” echoing Trump’s own position.
Lamb’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment on the tariffs.