In North Dakota, Trump finds Democrat willing to explore tax plan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump has found at least one Democrat willing to entertain his tax reform pitch: Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, who plans to travel with him on Air Force One on Wednesday to a tax event in her home state.

FILE PHOTO: Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) speaks at a news conference with a bipartisan group of senators on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., to unveil a compromise proposal on gun control measures, June 21, 2016. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Trump is trying to persuade Democrats to support his push to cut tax rates and simplify the tax code this year, a plan critical to bolstering Republicans heading into 2018 midterm elections, but which so far has included few details.

The White House plans to put Trump out on the road on a near-weekly basis this fall to sell his plan, which faces huge obstacles in Congress. Republicans control Congress but have so far been unable to pass Trump’s top legislative priorities.

He has appealed to Democrats to help, but lawmakers from the party are furious about his recent comments about white supremacists and his move on Tuesday to end a program that gave work permits to some immigrants brought illegally into the United States as children.

Last week, Trump made his first major tax reform speech in Missouri, urging voters to reject that state’s Democratic U.S. senator, Claire McCaskill, in the 2018 midterm elections unless she supports tax reform.

Similarly, Wednesday’s speech is aimed in part at Heitkamp, a Democrat up for re-election in a Republican stronghold, who has been willing to buck her party in the past.

“Both of the Reagan tax cuts were passed by a Democratic majority in the House (of Representatives), a Democratic speaker, and the vast majority of Democrats in the Senate, including a Democratic senator from the great state of North Dakota,” Trump will say, according to excerpts released by the White House.

On Friday, Heitkamp said both parties need to work together on tax reform, which she views as critical for businesses and families in her state.

“I hope President Trump uses this visit to address the kitchen-table issues that keep the North Dakotans I’ve met with across the state this past month up at night,” Heitkamp said in a statement.

Trump’s political push on tax reform will get an assist from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce lobbying group, which is set to begin a multimillion-dollar, multi-state campaign in New York on Thursday, a Republican familiar with the plan said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The campaign will be aimed at Republican members of Congress and some members of the conservative Freedom Caucus.

“It talks about the need for a sense of urgency, the need to change tax loopholes, the need for family tax relief, and it’s got to happen now,” the official said.

Reporting by Roberta Rampton and Steve Holland; Editing by Jonathan Oatis