Donald Trump talks inflation, Biden and bacon to Minnesota GOP donors, leaders and activists

Rochelle Olson, Star Tribune on

Published in Political News

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Former President Donald Trump headlined the state Republican Party's annual Lincoln Reagan Dinner on Friday in St. Paul, repeatedly ripping President Joe Biden and promising to fight to turn Minnesota red for the first time since 1972.

"This is an official expansion of the electoral map," Trump said of his appearance in Minnesota before claiming the dinner had set a fundraising record.

The presumptive GOP presidential nominee repeatedly mocked Biden for how he walks and talks, as well as his policies.

"I'm going to rescue Minnesota from all the ravages, and we're going to rescue the Iron Range again," Trump said.

He took aim at inflation, electric cars and anything made in China, and referred to Biden as the "worst president in the history of the country." He wondered how he could be just 2 percentage points ahead of the incumbent in a new poll that he didn't identify.

"I don't know if that's good or bad," Trump said, adding that Biden can't walk, can't talk, "can't find his way off a stage."

Trump mused out loud about why Biden is competitive with him. "There's only one way it can happen: They cheat," he said, again without giving any evidence.

Republicans have to "guard the vote. They'll do anything. They have no shame," he said of Democrats.

The former president complained that his teleprompter at RiverCentre fell before he started to speak, and then he shook the rostrum on the stage.

"Who put this stage up? The fricking place is falling down," Trump said. "I noticed it keeps tilting toward the left, like too many other things. What a crappy contractor this was."

He was expected to speak for an hour, skipping from subject to subject with the underlying theme of mocking Biden, calling him incompetent and corrupt and saying the Democratic president has made it hard for young Americans to buy a home or a car.

Trump even said he doesn't eat bacon anymore: "It's too expensive."

From the stage, he gave MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell a shoutout, saying his pillows are great and that Lindell has the best commercials.

Before Trump took the stage, U.S. Reps. Tom Emmer, Michelle Fischbach and Pete Stauber spoke about the aim of Minnesota going for a Republican for president for the first time since Richard Nixon won the state in1972.

The former president arrived in St. Paul after having spent most of the week in a New York City courtroom at his election interference trial. Earlier Friday, he attended his son Barron's high school graduation in West Palm Beach, Florida.

More than 1,000 donors reportedly paid at least $500 per plate, and up to $100,000 for a top-tier table with VIP treatment and photos with Trump. Attire ranged from buffalo plaid shirtsleeves and ballcaps for the men to casual summer dresses and sparkly evening wear for the women.

Emmer, the House minority whip, thanked Trump, saying he helped get the party out of debt for the first time in more than a decade.


He called out Minnesota's Democratic U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar: "By the way, Ilhan, if you're listening, you should support the country that has been so good to you."

He said that if Omar's unhappy here, she should move elsewhere. "And by the way, don't let the door hit you on the way out," Emmer said.

He noted that "sadly, Minnesota has not gone red for a presidential candidate since 1972." That's about to change, Emmer said, adding that his campaign would donate $100,000 to the state GOP.

Attendees dined on the usual convention fare: pre-plated green salads, chicken under white sauce, green beans and slices of cheesecake.

High-ranking DFLers preemptively criticized the former president at a state Capitol news conference.

"On the one hand, you have Joe Biden and Kamala Harris fighting for Minnesota's families and for the hard-fought progress that we have made," U.S. Sen. Tina Smith said. "And on the other hand, you have Donald Trump, who is fighting for himself."

Gov. Tim Walz criticized Trump for falsely claiming he won Minnesota in 2020. "That is such an outrageous statement; it is such an attack on the very fundamentals of our democracy. He lost by over seven points," Walz said. "And for him to crow that he thinks he has a chance, I remind folks, Joe Biden came closer in Texas than Donald Trump did in Minnesota."

The dinner capped the first day of the state Republican Convention. Throughout the day, protesters wandered the streets around the giant RiverCentre. The DFL-aligned political fund Alliance for a Better Minnesota set up a mobile billboard that read, "Donald Trump & Minnesota Republicans want to ban abortion."

By evening, a couple hundred anti-Trump protesters gathered outside to chant and voice their dislike for the former president and his policies on abortion and immigrant rights.

"I just think he's a despicable human being, even when he wasn't a politician," said Chuck Justice of Woodbury.

About 30 pro-Trump demonstrators also gathered and said they were thrilled by the visit. Waving a Trump 2024 flag, Doug Kern of Brainerd said he thinks the former president would improve the country overall.

"We're on a grease slide going down, and it has to stop," Kern said.


(Star Tribune staff writers Ryan Faircloth and Louis Krauss contributed to this report.)


©2024 StarTribune. Visit at startribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.



blog comments powered by Disqus