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While Minnesota GOPers hail Trump's arrival, Erik Paulsen keeps his distance

He's facing a huge battle to hold onto his 3rd Congressional District.

There is one Republican notably absent on Wednesday as President Trump arrives in Minnesota, 3rd District Rep. Erik Paulsen.

While his congressional colleagues, Reps. Tom Emmer and Jason Lewis, will join Trump at a round-table ahead of his rally in Duluth this evening, Paulsen is in Washington D.C.

With Paulsen facing a significant challenge to his 3rd District seat from DFLer Dean Phillips this November, his absence is the latest sign that he's attempting to distance himself from the president.

At the end of May, Paulsen held three town halls in which he opposed Trump's policies on immigration, felt the Russian interference in election meddling wasn't being taken seriously enough, and backed special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into said interference.

This follows increasing pressure at the grassroots level from constituents in the 3rd District demanding he take a stand against some of the president's most controversial policies.

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Not least of these, and certainly the most present of them, is the policy separating immigrant children from their parents after crossing the border illegally, a measure apparently taken by the Trump Administration to force Democrats to agree to new immigration measures, including the funding of the border wall.

Paulsen has recently stated his opposition to the policy, tweeting on Sunday that "Children shouldn't be used as leverage."

He went further on the day Trump lands in Minnesota, describing the policy as "unconscionable" and cited it as the reason why he's in D.C. today, not Duluth.

Hours after this tweet, Trump signed an executive order ending his child separation policy.

Also not in attendance is gubernatorial candidate Tim Pawlenty, who is sending his running mate Michelle Fischbach instead. His GOP opponent Jeff Johnson will be there however.

While Pawlenty was heavily critical of Trump during his candidacy, he's struck a kinder tone towards his since announcing his run for governor, and posted this message to his Twitter followers on Wednesday.

Emmer meanwhile, whose 6th District is typically a Republican stronghold, was more sympathetic to the president's choices, telling WCCO Radio he agrees with him that the fix to the immigration controversy needs to come from Congress.

"Our civil society is based on a rule of law," he said. "We have a legislative process, if it doesn't work, which our immigration system is sadly broken, it needs to be fixed. And it's got to be done for the longterm and that has to happen through the legislative process."

He also told the Pioneer Press while he doesn't want to see what's happening happen, the U.S. has a responsibility to make sure the parents are who they say they are, and are not "human traffickers or drug dealers."

Lewis has been a long-time supporter of Trump, and continues to back him even though his 2nd District is known to swing between blue and red.

Also speaking to the Pioneer Press regarding the child separation policy, he said "no one wants to see families needlessly separated," but agreed with the president's stance that a fix at the border should form part of wider changes to the immigration system.

Among the most enthusiastic about Trump's visit is Pete Stauber, who is running on the GOP ticket in the tightly-contested 8th Congressional District this November, and will also be attending the pre-rally round-table with the president. 

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