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Trump supporters line up early as Minneapolis police prepare for crowds

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Dan Nelson of Spring Lake Park, Minn. waits in line for Trump rally
Dan Nelson of Spring Lake Park, Minn., waits in line outside Target Center in Minneapolis on Tuesday, days ahead of a scheduled campaign rally by President Trump. He watches the gear of another supporter of the president.
Brandt Williams | MPR News

More than 48 hours before the rally was scheduled to start, President Trump’s supporters began lining up outside the arena. Among the first in line was Dan Nelson, an engineer from Spring Lake Park, Minn. hoping to get a front-row seat. He wants to show the president how much he appreciates Trump’s tax and economic policies.

“My company went from stagnant to growing and from no bonus to bonus. With the tax cuts alone, my check has gone up. People are getting better raises than before,” Nelson said.

The campaign rally is Trump’s first since the Democrats began an impeachment inquiry. Nelson said the president’s opponents will make up anything they can just to remove him from office.

Impeachment was certainly on the minds of the crowd north of Minneapolis who packed the Blaine City Council chambers Tuesday night, where Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer held another one of his regular town hall forums.

Jim Hunter of Ham Lake asked Emmer if it was OK for Trump to ask Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate the son of former Vice President Joe Biden.

“Our president is still responsible to follow the Constitution and the laws. And if he doesn’t, after that point, it’s your responsibility to hold him to it,” Hunter said.

Emmer — who leads the effort to elect more Republicans to Congress — answered as many who defend Trump do. It wasn’t what many in the room wanted to hear.

“Ever since this administration took office, there has been an attempt to undo the 2016 election,” Emmer said as many tried to interrupt him. “We were told the same thing about the Mueller report.”

Though the president’s visit was not a topic of discussion at Emmer’s forum, officials in Minneapolis have been busy preparing for it. Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said there will be a visible and robust law enforcement presence around Target Center.

He’s urging everyone in the area not to bring items such as backpacks, strollers, coolers, or anything that can be used as a weapon. And there’ll be zero tolerance for property damage.

When Trump announced the rally late last month, Mayor Jacob Frey, a Democrat, said the president’s “message of hatred will never be welcome in Minneapolis.”

Trump responded in a tweet that the “lightweight mayor was hurting the great police and other supporters.”

At a news conference Tuesday, Frey said the Trump campaign should pay more than $500,000 up front to cover costs associated with the event, including police overtime. Frey says the city’s contract with AEG, the company which operates Target Center, requires the expenses to be reimbursed.

“We’ve asked that AEG abide by the contract that we have with them assuring that associated costs of significant events like this one are covered. And we stand by that,” Frey said.

Campaign managers had said they would sue the city, but then backed off the threat. The campaign said the rally is on at Target Center, and Trump 2020 has not agreed to pay any additional funds.

The event is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Thursday. The Minnesota Republican Party is urging those who plan to go to be in line by noon.

MPR News reporters Brandt Williams and Briana Bierschbach contributed to this story.