President Donald Trump paid his latest visit to Minnesota on Wednesday, stopping in the Twin Cities and Duluth a little over a month before the election.
The president's visit to Minnesota came a day after he appeared in the first televised debate with Democratic candidate Joe Biden, with Trump under pressure after he failed to denounce white supremacists and criticized for his regular interruptions during the debate.
But he was in a bullish mood in front of an estimated 3,000 supporters in Duluth, telling his fans he held Biden accountable for his record in Congress, that Biden "lost badly" and is "too weak" to lead the country, and claimed – falsely – that his opponent is "canceling the rest of the debates."
Trump had earlier paid a visit to Lake Minnetonka, where he attended a fundraiser at the Shorewood home of Marty Davis, the CEO of Cambria and former owner of Sun Country Airlines. The event is expected to raise around $7 million for Trump's campaign.
He returned to Air Force One at MSP Airport and then made the short hop to Duluth, where he reserved his most vitriolic comments for Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar.
His attack on Omar included a mention of the as-yet unproven allegation of involvement in ballot harvesting published by Project Veritas, and then veered into racism with the line: "Frankly, harvesting is terrible but it's the least of things she has done ... then she tells us how to run our country can you believe it?"
Rep. Omar is an American citizen and has been since 2000, having fled her native Somalia at the age of 8 and spending four years in a Kenyan refugee camp before being granted asylum in the U.S.
The inflammatory comments continued by stoking fears that a Biden presidency would lead to a "historic flood" of refugees, turning Minnesota into "a refugee camp," a claim he also made during his recent visit to Bemidji.
"Biden’s plan to inundate your state with a historic flood of refugees ... from the most dangerous places in the world ... Yemen, Syria and your favorite country, Somalia. Right? You love Somalia … Biden will turn Minnesota into a refugee camp.”
He also returned to one of his most-repeated campaign messages, suggesting that housing regulations that come with a Biden presidency would harm suburban neighborhoods.
"I ended a regulation, that nobody would have done, this brings public housing, low-income housing into the suburbs, and by the way just so we get this right, 30% of the people in the suburbs are low-income people, 30% of the people in the suburbs are minorities, and so we're ruining this American Dream for everybody."
Focus on the Iron Range
The president had kinder words to say for the Iron Range, which has become an increasingly Republican region despite having historically been a DFL stronghold.
He now enjoys the support of multiple Iron Range mayors and credits his administration with "saving" the range following the Obama presidency.
At the start of the year, there had been a slight increase in mining and logging jobs compared to 18 months earlier, though the Star Tribune notes that the region is struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic, with state figures showing that mining and logging employment are at their lowest levels in Minnesota in a decade.
“But you know, they say it’s the greatest iron ore anywhere in the world and you should have it,” Trump added. “After I put tariffs on foreign steel, the iron rage came roaring back."
Trump warned that Biden would "shut the Iron Range down forever." Biden has not said this, instead saying the Iron Range would benefit from his federal infrastructure plans that would use American materials and workers.
The president is however eager for the Twin Metals mining project in the Boundary Waters watershed to go forward. Biden has not yet taken a position on it, but is likely to face pressure from within the Democratic Party not to go ahead with such a project near the protected wilderness.
Trump lost Minnesota in 2016 by a narrow margin of just 1.5% and has set his sights on it as one of his main pickup opportunities in this election.
He joked to the crowd: "If I lose Minnesota, I'm never coming back — I don't care. I'm never coming back!"
At 46 minutes, the speech was significantly shorter than the speech he gave in Bemidji two weeks ago, but in fairness it was a chilly night in Duluth, with temps hovering around the 50-degree mark.
While giving a shoutout to the Iron Range mayors supporting him, he said he wouldn't call them out individually as "it's freezing out here."
Comment from the RNC:
"In the heart of Northeastern Minnesota, President Trump reminded voters across the state why he’ll flip the land of 10,000 lakes in November. Surrounded by supporters across the political spectrum, President Trump relayed a message of hope as he promised to rebuild, renew, and restore all areas of Minnesota to their former greatness."
Comment from the DFL:
“Rather than address the COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed more than 2,000 lives in our state, an economy in recession, and closed-down schools and businesses, President Trump spent his time in Minnesota airing his petty grievances and attempting to divide us. We know better. We know that Minnesota is at its very best when we come together to address our shared challenges. Nothing Donald Trump says can distract us from the impacts of his failed economic policies and pandemic response, which have wreaked havoc on Minnesota families.”
Here is the full speech.