HELENA (AP) — U.S. Sen. Jon Tester was on the campaign trail Tuesday, with the help of Virginia's Jim Webb, as he buoyed his credentials on veterans' issues and attacked his opponent on lobbyists.
Tester is locked in one of the tightest, most watched Senate races in the country as he attempts to fend off a challenge from Republican U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg.
Webb complimented Tester at a Helena campaign rally for being an honest advocate for improving veteran's health care and support. Webb was introduced by another former U.S. Marine, Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger.
"Jon Tester is someone who knows what the average Montanan is going through," Webb said. "He will say the same thing in the Democratic caucus as he will on the Senate floor as he will to you here today."
Webb is among the Democrats who won in 2006 with Tester in an election that shifted control of the Senate to Democrats. Webb is not running for re-election this year.
Republicans are hoping this year that a win by U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg in Montana can help shift control back to the GOP.
Tester said there are a lot of differences between the candidates, such as on a women's right to "make her own health care decisions." Tester supports legalized abortion; Rehberg has said he opposes it.
Tester also criticized Rehberg for praising lobbyists as his source of information and saying the smart choice for him would have been to go into lobbying. The Rehberg statements came in a recently released, secretly taped speech the Republican made to a lobbying group.
The Rehberg campaign has criticized the clandestine way the information was collected.
Rehberg and his campaign have attacked Tester on lobbyists too, pointing out that Tester has been a top recipient of lobbyist campaign donations.
The Rehberg campaign and its allies also have relentlessly portrayed Tester as an ally of President Barack Obama, who is unpopular in the state.
A recent poll showed Rehberg holds a slight advantage over Tester, but Tester remains confident. He told supporters that their work talking to friends and neighbors will make the difference.
"We are going to win this election," Tester told a crowd of about a hundred.