>> President Donald Trump visited a factory in Pennsylvania outside Pittsburgh, Thursday. The trip was billed as an event promoting the recent Republican tax overhaul, but Trump has another matter in mind. He's hoping his star power will rally support for the Republican candidate in a special election for a house seat in Pennsylvania's 18th District.
>> Reuters' political correspondent, John Whitesides.>> There's no question they recognize the importance of this race. Outside Republican groups are already spending money in the district, one group spending a million on ads. The White House is meeting with the Republican candidate to urge him to continue to raise more money.
It's going to be all hands on board for this race. They can't afford to lose another special election after losing the Senate race in Alabama.>> Alabama's special election for the US Senate in December, a stunning setback for Trump and Republicans. The Democratic victory there came on the heels of a win in Virginia's gubernatorial race.
The special election in Pennsylvania was triggered after eight-term Republican representative Tim Murphy resigned in October, after reports he urged his mistress to have an abortion. The race in Pennsylvania is a test for the President in the heart of Trump country. And the President and his party hope that a victory here by Republican Rick Saccone could tamp down fears of a Democratic wave in the November midterm elections.
>> Republican in the race is a veteran state legislator and he's linked himself very closely to President Trump.>> I was Trump before there was Trump. I ran in 2010 on these same issues.>> The Democrat Connor Lamb has taken a very moderate tone in his race. He rarely brings up Trump and he's said he's willing to work with the President if he'll do something that would benefit the district.
He's from a Pennsylvania political family, but he's never run for office before. But he's a marine veteran, a former federal prosecutor, and he has the sort of resume Democrats think could make him a very strong contender.>> The President's low approval ratings, hovering below 40%, have contributed to Republican fears they could suffer major losses in the 2018 midterms.
If they can't hold a reliably Republican district in Pennsylvania, their worries will likely grow. Vice President Mike Pence also plans to visit the area to support Saccone, the special election will be held on March 13th.