Trump confronts liberal Minneapolis ahead of key rally

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS (October 9, 2019) — President Donald Trump heads to Minneapolis Thursday...despite a verbal war that has broken out with the city's leftist Democrat mayor.

Trump traded Twitter insults with the Minneapolis mayor over who should pay more than $500,000 in security costs for Thursday's rally at a downtown arena. He denounced Jacob Frey as a "Radical Left" lightweight and blasted the Democrat for a police policy banning officers from wearing their uniforms in support of political candidates. 

"Yawn," Frey tweeted back. "Welcome to Minneapolis where we pay our bills, we govern with integrity, and we love all of our neighbors."

It was just a warm-up to Trump's first campaign rally since being engulfed in the swirl of an impeachment investigation. The event is expected to carry extra partisan punch. Trump lands in Minnesota as polls show Americans' support for impeachment and for removing him from office have ticked up in the weeks since House Democrats launched an impeachment investigation.

While his GOP allies have launched a campaign to reverse the trend, Trump's self-defense may be the best preview of how he intends to fight back in the weeks ahead.

Both sides are tuned in to the symbolism of the moment. The rally at Target Center— the city's basketball arena— is expected to draw thousands of passionate supporters as well as protesters outside. Trump will be joined by Vice President Mike Pence, who had a separate schedule of appearances in the state this week.

The strategy is at the heart of Trump's plan to hold on to the Rust Belt and become the first Republican presidential candidate to carry Minnesota since Richard Nixon in 1972. Trump fell fewer than 45,000 votes short of beating Democrat Hillary Clinton statewide. He's had staff in the state since June, and they have been busy building a network to turn out supporters next November.

The campaign needs to pump up Trump's support in the rural and suburban areas he carried in 2016 to overcome Democratic strength in Minneapolis, St. Paul and some other cities, plus suburbs that swung Democratic in 2018. The Minneapolis rally will also win media coverage well into western Wisconsin, widely seen as a critical battleground in 2020.

GOP Rep. Tom Emmer, who leads the House Republican campaign arm and will attend the rally, said the opposition to Trump's visit could backfire on Democrats. Emmer was among Republicans accusing Frey of trying to block Trump's rally.

Federal campaign law does not require presidential campaign committees to pay for expenses incurred by state and local governments in connection with a campaign event.

"I think this visceral hatred, the blatant attempt to shut down some people's point of view and deny thousands of Minnesotans their voice ... I think Democrats are going to pay for it at the ballot box next November," Emmer said.

Few of Trump's Minnesota supporters could be more excited than Mike Lindell, known to TV viewers nationwide as the "MyPillow guy" after the pillow company he founded.

Lindell, a significant donor who has appeared at previous Trump rallies, credits the president with creating a booming economy and giving entrepreneurs like him the confidence to take chances. He said he's scheduled to speak Thursday.

"Everybody voted for him on faith that there would be something good, finally, and boy has he provided it," Lindell said.

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