Montana’s GOP Senate nominee used to routinely, if inaccurately, brag that he was a “rancher.” But he seems to have backed away from the term in recent months following questions about his experience.
Matt Rosendale is the state’s auditor and the Republican nominee challenging Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT). In the past months, his campaign has moved slowly and steadily to deemphasize his ranching claims.
The most recent, and boldest, example: He removed the term from his twitter bio in recent weeks.
Rosendale, through at least mid-August, described himself as a “conservative rancher, real estate developer, businessman” in his short twitter bio.
Now, he’s simply a “Trump conservative, fighter for Montana.”
That’s not the only place that Rosendale’s campaign has sought to rebrand.
His campaign website once used the same “rancher, real estate developer, businessman” construction in the opening line of its biographical section. It’s now gone, replaced by the description ” Trump conservative, straight shooter, and a fighter for Montana.”
As TPM reported back in May, Rosendale had been leaning more and more heavily into his rancher persona as a candidate throughout the GOP primary, using it in ads and on the campaign trail. But the real estate broker had previously publicly admitted that he leased out his land rather than ranched it himself, and documents obtained then by TPM showed he’d never actually owned any cattle.
In June, shortly after TPM reported about his seeming exaggerations, his campaign’s press releases stopped including their once-regular references to Rosendale as a “Glendive rancher,” referring to his adopted hometown. The campaign also removed the “rancher” description from his website’s tagline that month, according to cached versions of the site.
In July, “rancher” came out of his site’s bio page. In August, it came completely off the website’s homepage.
The twitter bio tweak seems to be the latest step in the slow scrubbing process, and came shortly before President Trump’s Thursday rally in the state for Rosendale.
For what it’s worth, as of this article’s publication Rosendale’s campaign website still described him as a “rancher” on his Facebook and instagram bios. His other campaign materials still often refer to Rosendale’s “family ranch” in Glendive, which he bought in 2002 after a successful career in Maryland real estate.
Strategists in both parties say Rosendale trails Tester by a margin in the single digits heading into the campaign’s homestretch.
Rosendale’s campaign didn’t respond to questions on why they’d shifted from using the term.