Obama Confirms Butte Stop, to Expand Montana Operation

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – Barack Obama’s campaign says the presidential candidate will be in Butte with his family for the Fourth of July, and it also announced plans to expand its Montana operation.

Obama is making the Friday stop as part of a swing through battleground states this week. His campaign confirmed Tuesday that the Democrat will be in Butte for the holiday.

“Sen. Obama and his family are looking forward to spending Independence Day in Butte,” said spokesman Caleb Weaver.

Other details on the trip were not released.

Obama is pledging to fight in traditional red states like Montana, and challenge the dominance GOP presidential candidates have held there. Obama soundly defeated Hillary Rodham Clinton in the state’s June 3 primary.

The campaign said it expects to open offices soon in several Montana cities, including Billings, Great Falls, Bozeman, Missoula and Helena, and hire more full time staffers.

“Montana is considered one of the very competitive states,” Weaver said.

The Fourth of July parade in Butte is a big event, and a common place to see Democratic candidates shaking hands in a city that strongly backs their party.

Gov. Brian Schweitzer is scheduled to participate in the parade. Obama’s campaign did not say if he would participate.

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., also will be in the parade, the senator’s office said.

Schweitzer said Obama’s visit helps the Illinois senator’s campaign in the state.

“I think it demonstrates he cares about what Montanans think,” Schweitzer said.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain has yet to visit Montana or set up a campaign operation in the state.

Friday’s stop will be Obama’s second visit to Butte. He spoke at the a Democratic dinner in April when he was competing with Clinton. He has also visited Missoula, Billings, Crow Agency, Bozeman and Great Falls.