Trump campaigs in Pennsylvania congressional race

US President tries to shore up Republican candidate by promoting metal tariffs

MOON TOWNSHIP, PENNSYLVANIAUS: President Donald Trump promoted his steel and aluminium tariffs and tossed out an idea to have drug dealers face the death penalty, addressing a raucous rally on Saturday for a Republican congressional candidate in a tight race.

His appearance was aimed at helping Republican Rick Saccone in a district Mr Trump won overwhelmingly in 2016 as part of a narrow win in Pennsylvania.

But while he endorsed Mr Saccone as a "really good person," Mr Trump spent a lot of time talking about his own fortunes in a Make America Great Again rally in an airport hangar at the Pittsburgh International Airport.

He said it was crucial for Republicans to muster forces to turn back a strong Democratic drive to win one or both houses of the US Congress in November midterm elections.

"We need Republicans. We need the vote," Mr Trump said, saying Democrats would take away, among other things, the right to bear firearms.

He also said the country should discuss having drug dealers face the death penalty because they are responsible for thousands of deaths.

"I don't know if that is popular. I don't know if that is unpopular," he said.

A day after getting news that the US economy produced 313,000 jobs last month, he said his policies are paying off.

Mr Trump also said 25 per cent tariffs on steel imports will boost Pennsylvania's economy.

Critics have said the tariffs could trigger retaliatory trade measures and damage the US economy. There are also doubts about how far Mr Trump's policies will go towards resuscitating the battered American steel industry.

"Your steel is coming back. It is all coming back," Mr Trump said to the several thousand cheering supporters.

He vowed to fight any retaliatory trade measures by, for example, slapping taxes on imported European cars.

Mr 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.


Polls show he is in a close race against Democrat Conor Lamb.

A Saccone loss would be the first loss of a Republican seat in the House of Representatives since Mr Trump took office, although Republicans would still have control of the chamber.

The race could signal how much help Mr Trump can provide Republican congressional candidates trying to keep control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate in midterm elections. - REUTERS