President Donald Trump will meet with local mining industry representatives and elected leaders during a formal "roundtable" discussion before his campaign event Wednesday in Duluth, White House officials announced Monday.
Trump will arrive in Duluth about two hours before the 6:30 p.m. campaign rally at Amsoil Arena.
The roundtable event - featuring several local mining industry workers, company officials and local politicians - is set for an undisclosed location somewhere on the Duluth waterfront. It's expected to showcase how his trade and deregulation policies are affecting the region's mining industry.
The roundtable is billed as an official presidential visit to highlight Trump's efforts to limit steel imports and his administration's efforts to roll back environmental regulations to push more business through the regulatory pipeline faster - policies that "promote and protect'' U.S. workers, White House officials said Monday.
The roundtable is expected to include U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis, R-Minn., and U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn. Lewis and Emmer represent districts around the Twin Cities. Local elected officials scheduled include St. Louis County commissioners Keith Nelson and Pete Stauber. Nelson is a longtime promoter of deregulation for the mining industry.
Stauber is running as a Republican for the 8th Congressional District and is widely reported as the reason Trump is visiting Duluth. He will be attending the roundtable in his duties as county commissioner - not as a congressional candidate, said Brian Jack, White House deputy director of political affairs, in a phone conference with reporters. Jack said any politicking by Stauber and Trump will happen later at the Amsoil Arena rally.
Duluth Seaway Port Authority Board President Ray Klosowski - retired commander of the Duluth-based 148th Fighter Wing of the Minnesota Air National Guard, and former director of the Duluth Airports Commission - is also slated to attend the roundtable.
Klosowski said he learned of his role on the way home from a trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
"From what I've been told, (Trump) wants to talk about the impact of mining, down the line, the jobs impacts, all the way to the steel mills," Klosowski said, adding that economic development is expected to be a hot topic. "And, of course, we want talk about the Soo Locks (reconstruction/replacement) of the Poe Lock to make sure we have that economic lifeline continue to be available."
Trump's efforts to slap trade barriers on incoming foreign steel are credited with propping up the domestic steel industry that depends, in part, on Minnesota iron ore, although the tariffs have triggered a global, tit-for-tat trade war that has damaged Minnesota efforts to export agricultural and other goods.
Jack said Monday the White House invited Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton to the event but that Dayton had a previously scheduled engagement. Dayton said last week he had not yet been asked to attend.