For the third time in less than two months, a member of the Trump administration or family will be in Duluth to bolster the president's reelection efforts in a state that he is hoping to flip Nov. 3.
Protests are also expected for the third time as Donald Trump Jr. speaks at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center on Wednesday evening.
The president's son is slated to speak at 5 p.m. in an event that will be capped at 250 people, including staff, in order to abide by Minnesota Department of Health guidelines. Doors will open at 4 p.m. for those who have registered in advance at events.donaldjtrump.com.
The registration form includes a disclaimer in which attendees must agree that they "understand and expressly acknowledge that an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present." The notice states that neither the Trump campaign, DECC or any other affiliated organizations or people may be held liable for exposure to the virus.
Trump's campaign has been criticized for holding indoor events amid a pandemic, particularly a June 20 rally by the president in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Several campaign staffers and Secret Service agents tested positive ahead of that event.
Herman Cain, a top Trump ally who attended the rally, died from COVID-19 on July 30 after a long hospitalization. Trump Jr.'s girlfriend, Kimber-ly Guilfoyle, also tested positive for the virus ahead of a July 3 event at Mount Rushmore.
Roger Reinert, the DECC's interim director, told the News Tribune last week that the Trump campaign agreed to the 250-person cap, along with the enforcement of temperature checks at the door and the use of face masks.
"I called the campaign personally twice to ensure they understood our policies," Reinert said. "As a venue, we're neutral on the content that we host, but we have to enforce our safety standards."
It was unclear how many tickets have been requested or how the campaign and venue would handle any excess crowds that arrive Wednesday. Reinert could not be reached for comment Monday.
Meanwhile, a picket is scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday at Duluth's Gichi-ode' Akiing, formerly Lake Place Park, to "stand in solidarity with all members of our community to declare that we value human rights and the protection of our democracy."
Trump Jr. has emerged as a political figure of his own since his father first announced his outsider campaign for president in 2015. The 42-year-old authored a book, "Triggered," that debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list in November 2019, and many have speculated that he may someday mount his own run for elected office.
Minnesota DFL Chairman Ken Martin called Trump Jr.'s visit "an attempt to distract from his father's disastrous response to the coronavirus pandemic" and the resulting economic consequences.
“The Trump administration has failed Minnesotans, plain and simple," Martin said in a statement. "Duluth’s July unemployment rate was higher than at any point during the Great Recession, and our state just saw our one-day record for positive coronavirus cases.
"Donald Trump Jr. was born into privilege and doesn’t understand what everyday Minnesotans are going through as a result of his father’s incompetence and failed economic policies. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris understand working families, and that’s why they will win Minnesota, help elect DFLers up and down the ballot, and make Donald Trump a one-term president.”
The president has publicly expressed regret at not scheduling additional stops in Minnesota in 2016. That year, he lost the state to Democrat Hillary Clinton by 44,765 votes, or 1.52%, his second-narrowest loss.
The campaign has been particularly active in Duluth and the Iron Range this year.
Though not officially a campaign event, the president's daughter and senior adviser, Ivanka Trump, visited Duluth Pack on July 27, along with U.S. Secretary of Interior David Bernhardt, to sign the administration's "Pledge to America’s Workers."
Vice President Mike Pence was in Duluth on Aug. 28 to make his first public appearance since the Republican National Convention, announcing the support of six self-identified Democratic mayors of area cities.
Protesters gathered in Canal Park for Ivanka Trump's visit and at the Duluth Civic Center for Pence's stop.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who has largely refrained from in-person campaigning since the start of the pandemic, has indicated in recent weeks that he would make stops in Minnesota, Wisconsin and other battleground states ahead of the election.
His wife, Jill Biden, is slated to discuss education in a visit to the Twin Cities on Wednesday, the same day Trump Jr. rallies in Duluth.