BEMIDJI -- Enthusiasm for President Donald Trump's visit to Bemidji has built up swiftly over the past 24 hours among Republicans, with leaders and candidates alike highly anticipating next Friday's event.
"Having the President of the United States come to visit the community, that in itself is a very awesome situation," said Rich Siegert, chair of the Beltrami County Republican Party. "We've had a great response from people who are very excited and there are people in town who are volunteering to participate in building up the event and making it bigger. There's a lot of excitement right now."
Siegert said in terms of policy, there's a strong possibility that Trump could use next week's visit to touch on major regional matters.
"I'm not sure what Trump is going to address, but I imagine some of it may have to do with mining issues, along with getting Line 3 (Enbridge's replacement oil pipeline) going," Siegert said. "I think he supports those issues. I'd imagine he'll address them since they've been large issues in the Iron Range."
Pete Stauber, the representative for the Iron Range and the rest of Minnesota's 8th Congressional District, said Trump's visit is a symbol of the president's commitment to the state.
"Minnesota is a top priority for President Trump and I look forward to welcoming him to Bemidji on Friday, the first day of early voting in-person," Stauber said in a statement to the Pioneer. "The President joins me in fighting for our way of life and strongly supports initiatives like the Line 3 replacement project and we are working relentlessly to get our economy moving again and provide an economic boom to this region."
Former Minnesota Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach, the candidate for Minnesota's 7th Congressional District, which borders the 8th, also made a statement to the Pioneer Friday, where she said, "there is so much excitement to have President Trump visit the 7th Congressional District. I will be there with many great patriots to welcome President Trump to Bemidji."
Because the Bemidji area covers both districts, Siegert said this will be an important stop for the GOP's 2020 campaign.
"There is a lot of activity going on because half of the county is in CD7 and the other half is in CD8," Siegert said. "So, we get both districts for northern Minnesota and we support both the best we can."
Former District 5A Rep. Matt Bliss, who is running in 2020 to regain his seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives, also spoke on the importance of the visit when it comes to the state's politics.
"This shows that President Trump truly believes that Minnesota is in play and we can turn the state red this year," Bliss said in a statement to the Pioneer. "I am honored to be a part of this visit."