Trump throws support behind Barletta in Pa. Senate race

Trump throws support behind Barletta in Pa. Senate race
© Greg Nash

President TrumpDonald John TrumpAl Gore: Trump has had 'less of an impact on environment so far than I feared' Trump claims tapes of him saying the 'n-word' don't exist Trump wanted to require staffers to get permission before writing books: report MORE on Sunday threw his support behind Rep. Lou BarlettaLouis (Lou) James BarlettaTop Koch official fires back at critics: We are not an 'appendage' of the GOP Dem senator: Media should stop covering Trump rallies like they're breaking news The Hill's Morning Report: Trump tries to rescue Ohio House seat as GOP midterm fears grow MORE (R-Pa.), who is seen as the leading Republican candidate seeking to unseat Sen. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyTop Koch official fires back at critics: We are not an 'appendage' of the GOP Dem senator: Media should stop covering Trump rallies like they're breaking news The Hill's Morning Report: Trump tries to rescue Ohio House seat as GOP midterm fears grow MORE Jr. (D) in the midterm elections.

“Rep. Lou Barletta, a Great Republican from Pennsylvania who was one of my very earliest supporters, will make a FANTASTIC Senator,” Trump tweeted. “He is strong & smart, loves Pennsylvania & loves our Country! Voted for Tax Cuts, unlike Bob Casey, who listened to Tax Hikers Pelosi and Schumer!”

Trump had already given Barletta a de facto endorsement last year when he said during a rally that the candidate was a "great guy" who will "win big."

The president has lately taken an interest in elections in Pennsylvania, a state that proved vital to Trump’s victory in 2016.

Last month, the president visited the state to signal support for Rick Saccone, the Republican candidate in a special election to replace Rep. Tim MurphyTim MurphyJordan weathering political storm, but headwinds remain Saccone loses GOP primary comeback bid in Pa. Nearly half of voters hope for Dems to win majority in 2018: poll MORE (R), who announced his resignation last month after reports that he had urged a woman with whom he had been having an affair to get an abortion.

Barletta was an early supporter of Trump’s presidential campaign. After Trump expressed his support, Barletta tweeted on Sunday afternoon: “We are revitilizing the American dream day after day. America will grow America will prosper America will be greater than ever before. #MAGA.”

Barletta has drawn fire recently over a CNN report that when he was mayor of Hazleton, Pa., he did an interview in 2006 with American Free Press, which is known for promoting anti-Semitic views, including the idea that the Holocaust wasn’t real.

The next year he also headlined a rally featuring a band that promoted Holocaust and 9/11 conspiracies.

According to Barletta’s deputy campaign manager, Barletta was “not aware of these individuals’ background,” and has always condemned “hate, bigotry and racial supremacy in all its forms.”

The Pennsylvania primary elections for the Senate will be held on May 15.