WELLS, Minn. — Former New York City mayor and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg ventured into rural Minnesota on a campaign stop to discuss the issues pressing rural America's farmers.
Winter winds whipped through the fields of the Johnson family farm located in the town of Wells, population 2,200, when Bloomberg arrived on Wednesday, Jan. 8. Gathered around a large spool-turned-table in a machine shed, Bloomberg asked the Johnsons — who have owned and operated their southern Minnesota farm for four generations — what their biggest concerns are.
Among the Johnsons' top concerns were President Donald Trump's ongoing trade war, of which Darin Johnson said "the weight's been on the farmer's back."
"Has it been a tough past couple of years? Absolutely, but we're very passionate about what we do," Johnson said. "Ultimately, it's about carrying on the legacy of this farm."
Bloomberg on his official campaign website does not have a proposal specifically for America's agricultural industry, but said Wednesday that he wants to "better understand rural America."
"I come from the city, but you're the backbone of America," he told the Johnsons. "We eat and live based on what you do. I think it's easy for us living in the big cities to not care about the rest of the world. (...) I think you've just got to understand that this country is bigger."
The Johnsons also voiced concern about labor shortages on American farms and difficulty competing in a global market against competitors with significantly lower labor costs than in America. Bloomberg, who touts himself as a "a passionate advocate for welcoming immigrants and fixing the broken immigration system," replied that "some people forget just how dependent (farmers) are on immigrants."
According to a Tuesday news release from Bloomberg's campaign, Wells was one of three campaign stops Bloomberg made on Wednesday, in addition to Chicago and Akron, Ohio. He aimed to tout his economic proposal, which he says will "bring more opportunities to people and places that have been shortchanged by Donald Trump," both rural and urban, by increasing the minimum wage, prioritizing training and education and investing in rural broadband.
With Minnesota's primary election a mere eight weeks away, Bloomberg has poured over $2 million of campaign advertisements into the state, according to FiveThirtyEight.com. According to a December Quinnipiac Poll, Bloomberg has earned 5% support from Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters surveyed.
According to the same poll, former Vice President Joe Biden leads with 29% support, followed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders at 17% and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 15%.