Montana Senator Jon Tester is a former school teacher who farms the land that his grandparents homesteaded in 1912. When he was nine he lost the middle three fingers of his left hand to a meat grinder. His farm is in the middle of Montana, in the middle of the Wheat Belt, which stretches from Alberta to Texas.
Montana is primarily an agricultural state, and Tester has cred with his fellow farmers. He may be out of tune with them politically, but he’s one of them. They are a critical part of his political base.
When the Chinese trade delegation was making plans to visit a couple farm states on their way home, they picked Montana. Why? Kansas is the wheat state. Montana is only number five.
Politically, Montana is solid Trump country. Not so the state of Washington, which is number three in wheat production. A trip there might have boosted the President’s remote chance of winning Washington in 2020.
Montana was picked because of Tester reelection run in 2024. Trump wants to steal Tester’s base, by showing Montana wheat growers that he’s their guy, and he can deliver the goods. Trump doesn’t need any help in Montana, but the Republican nominee in 2024 will want all the help he can get.
Whoever that nominee may be.