Rep. Tom Emmer on the 2020 election and the key issues facing America

A man looks at the camera with a black background.
Rep. Tom Emmer at MPR on March 6, 2020. Emmer, who chairs the National Republican Campaign Committee, spoke at a recent University of Minnesota Humphrey School event.
Evan Frost | MPR News file

Sixth District Minnesota U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer is chair of the National Republican Campaign Committee. He joined University of Minnesota political science professor Larry Jacobs to talk about the 2020 elections and the key issues facing the country.

They discussed his attendance at President Trump’s reelection rally in Tulsa over the weekend and whether Trump will help or hinder the election of other Republican candidates.

“We can win back the majority … and the president will help us,” Emmer said. “The thing to remember is in 2018, the Trump voters didn’t show up.” There are 43 Democrats holding seats favoring Republicans, Emmer calculated, “and we only need 17.”

The three things Emmer believes are key to winning elections are great candidates, a conducive environment, and enough money. “A charismatic candidate with a great message” is most often successful.

Emmer said he believes polls are not reflecting people’s views on the election because so many people are loathe to say what they really think — to pollsters or even to their family and friends.

On the subject of partisanship in Congress, Emmer said Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been “hijacked by the radical left in her party.” He said it is not incorrect to call many Democrats “socialists” because “they have a socialist agenda.”

Elected officials have to be willing to “stand up and speak out” if they don’t agree with a position taken by activists or their own political leaders. If not, “you own it.”

The question voters will need to answer when they cast their ballot, Emmer said, is “who is better at keeping me safe and secure?”

The University of Minnesota Humphrey School event was held via Zoom on Tuesday.

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