Updated: 7:28 p.m.
Minnesota is getting extra attention from the presidential campaigns of Donald Trump and Joe Biden this week.
Donald Trump Jr. delivered a feisty 35-minute speech during a "Make America Great Again" rally to more than 200 supporters at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center on Wednesday night.
He greeted the crowd by saying “They say we can’t win Minnesota. I disagree!” to a big round of applause.
President Trump has made Minnesota a priority this election, which the President lost by about 45,000 votes in 2016, despite spending few resources in the traditionally blue state. The Trump campaign is trying to build on his support in greater Minnesota and the outer Twin Cities suburbs, while Biden is counting on strong Democratic turnout in the Twin Cities and inner suburbs.
Grow the Future of Public Media
MPR News is supported by Members. Gifts from individuals power everything you find here. Make a gift of any amount today to become a Member!
In the past six weeks, Trump’s daughter and presidential advisor Ivanka Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and now Donald Trump Jr. have all visited Duluth.
The president last campaigned in Minnesota on Aug. 17 in Mankato, where he stressed law-and-order themes. Biden has said he intends to visit Minnesota, too, but last campaigned in the state in December 2017.
No Republican has carried Minnesota since 1972. But Trump's team is increasingly confident about his chances and they're dwarfing Biden's television advertising budget in the state over the coming weeks.
Trump Jr. spent much of the 35-minute speech in Duluth blasting the media, the "radical left," and Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden, who he criticized for having spent decades in Washington.
"He’s the camouflage to come into places like Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, and Ohio and Pennsylvania, and say ‘no, no, no it’s Moderate Joe, Blue Collar Joe from Scranton.’ You’re not Blue Collar Joe if you’ve been a D.C. elected official for 50 years, since your 20s," he said.
Jill Biden spent about an hour Wednesday morning touring an elementary school in Prior Lake, Minn., with Gov. Tim Walz, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Education Minnesota president Denise Specht as part of her national "Back-to-School Tour."
Biden expressed confidence that Minnesota would back her husband Joe Biden in November despite the full-court press by Trump’s reelection campaign.
"We absolutely can win Minnesota. And I looked at the polls this morning. t's looking good but we're not taking any vote for granted,” she said. “So, I'm here, I'm here on my bus tour, Joe I'm sure will be here.”
During her visit, Jill Biden promised Minnesota educators that they’d have an ally in the White House if voters elect Joe Biden. She has had a long teaching career and said that experience gives them a direct line to the potential next president.
While she acknowledged that the school year is off to an uncertain start given the pandemic. Jill Biden said a Biden administration would emphasize assistance for classrooms, distance learning technology, counselors and other essential needs.
“I just want to assure you. When my husband is president he already has a plan. He’s not going to wait,” she told education leaders in Minnesota Wednesday.
Minnesota Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan, however, said that her party wants schools fully open, suggesting Democrats don’t, and claimed that Jill Biden came to the state because Joe Biden was not up to making the trip.
“He clearly does not have the capability and capacity to campaign effectively across this country,” Carnahan said.
Jill Biden’s visit is the first by a prominent member of the Democratic campaign since COVID-19 hit. The former vice president, who has yet to campaign in the state, has hinted at his own campaign stop before Election Day.
On Thursday night, presidential daughter-in-law Lara Trump is set to lead an event at the Intercontinental Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport Hotel.
Ahead of Trump Jr.’s visit to Duluth, Democrats criticized the Republican president for what they say are his failed economic, health care and social justice policies. They said such visits are intended to distract from Trump's record, including the high cost of the pandemic to the country.
“We have the coronavirus pandemic, we have the economic collapse and we have a civil rights pandemic and what they all have in common is Donald Trump adding gasoline to the fire, inciting fear, sowing chaos, pitting Americans against each other," said Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez.