Trump draws sold-out crowd at GOP dinner, declares campaign ‘officially expanding’ into MN

Congressman Tom Emmer told the crowd that the fundraiser dinner would put the state party out of debt for the first time in more than a decade.

President Donald Trump takes the stage at the Republican Party of Minnesota’s annual Lincoln-Reagan Dinner at the St. Paul RiverCentre Friday, May 17. (Photo via Team Trump/Facebook)

Just a few hours after Donald Trump celebrated the graduation of his youngest child, 18-year-old Barron, from high school in Florida on Friday, the former president hopped on a plane and then delivered an 80-minute stump speech to a packed ballroom of supporters in downtown St. Paul.

Trump made it clear he believes the state of Minnesota can help him win his 2024 rematch with President Joe Biden.

Whether that’s possible remains to be seen. Richard Nixon was the last Republican presidential candidate to carry Minnesota, and that was in 1972. Trump lost to Biden in Minnesota by 7 percent in 2020, but was much closer in 2016, when he lost to Hillary Clinton by under 2 percent.

“I’m here tonight to declare that we are officially expanding the — this is an official expansion of the electoral map,” Trump said, referencing recent polls that show he and Democratic opponent Biden are in a statistical tie in Minnesota. “We want a landslide in your state, and we want a landslide in our nation that is too big to rig.”

In a keynote address at the Republican Party of Minnesota’s annual Lincoln-Reagan Dinner, Trump helped draw more than 1,500 donors to the downtown St. Paul RiverCentre. All of those who attended paid at least $500 to get in the door, with “VIP” tickets and tables going for several thousands of dollars. A presidential VIP table and an opportunity to take photos with Trump was offered for $100,000.

Make no mistake, this was a fundraiser for a political organization that is likely to receive a much-needed financial boost from Trump’s appearance as it gears up to turnout its base across Minnesota this fall, where it hasn’t won a statewide election since 2006.

“President Trump’s visit to our great state (tonight) is a true testament to his grit, determination and fighting spirit, that no sham trial is going to keep President Trump off the campaign trail,” said Congressman Tom Emmer, who, as the chair of Trump’s presidential campaign in Minnesota, co-hosted the event with the state party. “And it is definitely not going to stop us from turning Minnesota red in November.”

While Emmer warmed up the crowd for Trump’s keynote appearance, he announced that the fundraiser dinner would put the state party out of debt for the first time in more than a decade. He also said his campaign would donate $100,000 to the Republican Party of Minnesota to aid it in its efforts to help boost GOP candidates for elected office across the state.

Congressman Tom Emmer, who serves as House majority whip, warms up the crowd at Friday’s Lincoln-Reagan Dinner. (Alpha News)

Minnesota Republican leaders promised attendees they will utilize those resources to help deliver Minnesota’s 10 electoral votes for Trump in his rematch with President Biden.

“We are focused on helping our candidates and their campaigns and raising the funds to make that possible,” said Minnesota GOP Chair David Hann. “We are going to be the governing party in Minnesota.”

Other speakers included Congresswoman Michelle Fischbach and Congressman Pete Stauber, who, along with Emmer, have publicly supported Trump’s latest presidential run amidst the handful of legal battles he’s faced over the last year.

“President Trump knows that Minnesota is in play,” Fischbach told the crowd. “Even with all the sham prosecutions and garbage they are throwing (at him), he is still in a dead heat with Biden in Minnesota.”

Much of Trump’s speech provided red meat for Republican faithful as he roasted his Democratic opponent’s mental faculties along with Biden’s track record over the last three-plus years on immigration, inflation and foreign affairs.

“On day one we’ll throw out Bidenomics and we will reinstate MAGAnomics,” Trump said. “We will stop the Biden stupid spending spree and we’ll end his inflation death spiral.”

He also touched on his plans to tackle these issues and didn’t shy away from several references to a 2020 election outcome that was impacted by election fraud.

DFL Party surrogates for Biden in Minnesota condemned those allegations in statements released throughout the week.

“Donald Trump has shown over and over again that he doesn’t respect Minnesotans enough not to lie to our faces,” said DFL Party Chair Ken Martin in a statement. “Minnesotans will see through these lies and hold Trump accountable for the extreme MAGA agenda that he is trying to force on our state.”

On Friday morning, Gov. Tim Walz appeared on CNN to stump for Biden and lob insults at Trump in advance of the former president’s campaign stop in St. Paul.

“He’s coming back for a hat trick,” Walz told a CNN morning anchor in a brief interview before 7 a.m. “He lost it in 2016, he lost in 2020, he’ll lose it in 2024. Look, I was hoping the one thing he kept his word on is he said he wouldn’t come back.”

But those criticisms clearly haven’t deterred Trump as he called on Minnesota GOP officials and party activists to “guard the vote.”

“This year’s election season in Minnesota begins on Sept. 20 and goes all the way to Nov. 5, isn’t that ridiculous?” Trump told the crowd. “You know what that does? That gives them the right to cheat.”

Trump helped draw more than 1,500 donors to the downtown St. Paul RiverCentre. (Alpha News)

Trump injected plenty of humor into the evening. He joked that the “frickin’ place is falling down” after his podium began to tip over. And he lightly roasted Republican elected officials who had warmed up the crowd for him, including North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, who he teased as a potential vice-presidential pick.

He also dangled some interesting campaign promises including an executive order he would “sign on day one” to pull federal funding from schools that teach critical race theory and said that his administration would develop a new missile defense system for America, similar to the famed “Iron Dome” that Israel has used to shield itself from rocket attacks. He said many of the materials would be produced in Minnesota, but didn’t provide more details.

Trump’s visit attracted a small gathering of protesters and counter-protesters outside the RiverCentre along Kellogg Boulevard. About three dozen people chanting anti-Trump and pro-Palestine slogans occasionally exchanged words with a handful of Trump supporters standing nearby holding Trump banners and American flags. By the time the event concluded, the crowds had dispersed.


Hank Long

Hank Long is a journalism and communications professional whose writing career includes coverage of the Minnesota legislature, city and county governments and the commercial real estate industry. Hank received his undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota, where he studied journalism, and his law degree at the University of St. Thomas. The Minnesota native lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and four children. His dream is to be around when the Vikings win the Super Bowl.