Trump comes to Duluth

President Trump appeared in Duluth to speak before a raucous campaign type rally yesterday evening (video below). The event was moved from its original location to an arena (the Amsoil Arena) with a larger capacity (more than 8,000), and was still unable to accommodate all those who sought to attend. The Star Tribune report on the event quotes Gary Nystrom of Staples, Minnesota. He told the Star Tribune that “he had never voted in his life until he turned out for Trump in 2016.” The AP report on the event captures some of the local political cross-currents visible in the president’s speech.

The Eighth District was long a Democratic stronghold. It isn’t any more. Trump carried the district in 2016 by nearly 16 points.

I don’t agree with the president on every theme he touched on in his public appearance yesterday, but I support the immigration policies against which maybe 1,000 protesters turned out and I support him against his Democratic adversaries. They make it so easy. It was good to see the enthusiasm he elicited in his appearance last night.

“Democrats put illegal immigrants before they put American citizens. What the hell is going on?” asked Trump. Living in the Twin Cities, I find that to be a question that frequently occupies me. We understand what is going on.

The president was interrupted by a protester sporting something approaching a man-bun. We’re not sure what his message was. He held up a picture of Trump with another person. As he was removed from the arena, Trump advised him: “Go home to your mom, darling. Go home.” Good advice.

Trump’s appearance yesterday called to mind then candidate Trump’s appearance on the Sunday before the election at a MSP Airport hangar. He spoke then to an overflow crowd that locked up traffic approaching the airport from every direction. I thought his appearance here was intended for the ears of voters in western Wisconsin, but as it turned out he almost carried Minnesota — as he recalled at the opening of his remarks last night.

Duluth is the biggest city in Minnesota’s sprawling Eighth District. It is represented by retiring Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan. Trump’s appearance in Duluth featured Eighth District Republican congressional candidate Pete Stauber, who surprised Trump with a speech of his own when called up by the president. The Democrats haven’t yet settled on their candidate. Along with Minnesota First District, the Eighth District is one of the few districts in the country that is ripe to be flipped to Republicans in 2018.

Nolan is 74. When he announced his retirement from Congress this past February, he said he wanted to return home and spend more time with his family. Then earlier this month Nolan signed on to Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson’s campaign for the DFL gubernatorial nomination against DFL-endorsed candidate Erin Murphy. Nolan is running on Swanson’s ticket for lieutenant governor. There is a lot of action on the DFL side in the upcoming August 14 primary.

Quotable quote (about his meeting with Kim Jong Un): “We got back our hostages and I didn’t pay $1.8 billion to get them back.”

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