BEMIDJI -- Minnesota is a battleground state in the 2020 election and President Donald Trump is hoping Beltrami County will help flip it red in November.
In speaking on background to the Pioneer, a senior campaign official noted President Trump's existing support in Minnesota and said Friday's visit to Bemidji is to create an opportunity for more of those backing the re-election bid to hear him speak. The official also cited Beltrami's status as one of the Minnesota counties which flipped in 2016, with the net swing being nearly 4,500 votes.
During Trump's Bemidji visit, scheduled for 6 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 18, at Bemidji Aviation Services, the campaign official said audience members can expect an "America first" message on trade and foreign policy. The official said the president is also expected to speak about contrasts between his and Democratic candidate Vice President Joe Biden's economic agendas.
Making the event happen
As for the venue for Trump's stop, Bemidji Aviation Services Vice President Tracie Walter said the business was approached by the campaign.
"We were contacted by the campaign and asked if we would be a vendor for the space and we agreed," Walter said. "We are busy right now, but the campaign staff takes care of everything. We don't have to do much."
When it comes to holding the event within the city limits, Bemidji City Manager Nate Mathews said in most cases, large events do require a permit. However, Mathews said the presidential visit was scheduled without the city's knowledge. With the event now on the calendar, though, Mathews said the city will be hard at work making sure the day goes smoothly.
"We're going to be busy as a city and we're going to be working with our partners like the State Patrol, Beltrami County and MnDOT," Mathews said. "There's a lot of jurisdictions communicating right now. It's a private event, so we're not in charge of what's going on inside the perimeter, but for the guests and visitors who come here, we will work to make sure traffic control is managed well and that it's a safe environment for the public."
Looking at the numbers
Before Trump's local victory, the last Republican candidate to win Beltrami County was President George W. Bush in 2000, who earned 8,346 votes, ahead of Vice President Al Gore, who received 7,301. In that election, the Green Party ticket with Ralph Nader and Winona LaDuke also had a relatively good showing in Beltrami County with 1,269 votes.
In 2004, Democratic candidate John Kerry earned 10,592 votes, ahead of Bush who received 10,237. In 2008, President Barack Obama won the county with 12,019 votes, ahead of Republican candidate John McCain who earned 9,762.
For 2012, Obama won Beltrami County again with 11,818 votes, coming ahead of Republican candidate Mitt Romney with 9,637 votes. In the next election, the county flipped, with Trump receiving 10,783 votes to win Beltrami over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
In 2016, more than 1,600 individuals also voted for other parties in Beltrami County. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson earned 780, Independence candidate Evan McMullin received 444 and Green candidate Jill Stein had 420.
For the state as a whole, Minnesota last went Republican in 1972 when President Richard Nixon won its electoral votes. Since then, the Democratic candidate has won the state in 11 consecutive elections, the longest streak for any state in the union for the party.
However, in 2016, Clinton won the state 46.4% to 44.9%, a margin of just 1.5%. It was the closest win since 2000 when Gore won the state by a margin of 2.4%.
Trump has already been on the campaign trail in the state, making a stop to Mankato in August, which was also held at that community's airport. Trump has also visited northern Minnesota before, too, with a rally in Duluth in June 2018.
Those interested in attending the "Great American Comeback" events can register for tickets on the Trump campaign website, events.donaldjtrump.com.