House GOP candidate in Mont. praises healthcare bill's passage on tape
© Courtesy / Wikimedia Commons

A Republican candidate running for an open House seat in Montana was caught on tape praising the GOP's measure to repeal and replace ObamaCare after declining to answer a question on Thursday about his stance on the bill.

A spokesman for Greg Gianforte, who is running against Democrat Rob Quist to fill seat vacated by now-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, told The New York Times that the candidate needs "to know exactly what’s in the bill before he votes on it."

But in a call with lobbyists in Washington on Thursday, Gianforte could be heard expressing support for the American Health Care Act, the GOP bill repealing large parts of ObamaCare that the House narrowly passed Thursday, The Times reported.

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"The votes in the House are going to determine whether we get tax reform done, sounds like we just passed a health care thing, which I’m thankful for, sounds like we’re starting to repeal and replace," Gianforte said on the phone call, according to the report.

The Montana special election is seen increasingly as a key battle for Republicans working to keep their House majority and Democrats looking to capitalize on President Trump's historically low approval ratings.

Like other special elections in Kansas and Georgia, the Montana race has gained national attention. Vice President Pence is expected to travel to Montana next week to campaign for Gianforte. Likewise, Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersButtigieg says he wouldn't be opposed to having Phish play at his inauguration Sanders announces first endorsements in South Carolina Poll: Buttigieg surges into contention with Biden, Sanders MORE (I-Vt.) is set to appear alongside Quist this month.  

Gianforte's campaign manager Brock Lowrance told the Times that the candidate would not have voted for the bill, because he didn't know what's in it. He said Gianforte simply meant that he was "thankful" healthcare reform was underway.