Announcing his candidacy, Rehberg called Tester a "yes man for Barack Obama," saying he sides with the administration on 97% of votes. He singled out Tester's support for the healthcare bill and 2009 economic stimulus, both of which Rehberg opposed. "It's contrary to what Montanans want," said Rehberg, who helped lead House efforts to cut off funding for the healthcare bill.
Tester defends both. The healthcare legislation was a start toward repairing an out-of-control system, he told radio listeners, and contains "a lot of good stuff." Any problems, he said, can be fixed.
The stimulus bill, he told state lawmakers, "pulled our nation away from the ledge of a catastrophic depression…. The only thing failed about it … was a vote against it."
While supporting Obama on perhaps the two most important initiatives of his administration, Tester diverges from many in his party with his staunch support of gun rights and uncompromising stance on illegal immigration, an independence that plays well at home, if not on the far left. "I represent Montana," he said, dismissing critics.