BEMIDJI, Minn. — President Donald Trump spoke before a sea of thousands of red-hatted supporters gathered at Bemidji Aviation Services Friday evening, Sept. 18, coinciding with Joe Biden’s Duluth visit and the start of early voting for the North Star State.
Trump took the stage just after 6 p.m. after deplaning to fanfare and cheers of “four more years.”
Throughout his animated and combative speech in the "First City on the Mississippi," themes of police, refugees, jobs, democratic opponents and social security loomed large. The president also addressed several Minnesota specific topics before rolling into some of his usual rally greatest hits.
He began his address by mentioning Minnesota’s Iron Range, then quickly moving to Minnesota’s relationship with refugees, however, he did not bring up last year’s contentious Beltrami County vote.
He addressed, “Sleepy Joe’s plan to flood your state with refugees.”
“You know better than almost anybody,” Trump said, referencing Minnesota’s large Somali refugee population.
Trump claimed that Biden supposedly has plans to increase Minnesota’s refugee acceptance numbers by 700%.
“Congratulations, Minnesota, good luck Minnesota, enjoy yourselves,” he said sarcastically to a cacophony of boos. “Your state will be overrun and destroyed.”
He then moved to address the unrest in Minneapolis, taking an opportunity to blame Minnesota lawmakers for their mishandling of the situation.
“Ever heard of a place called Minneapolis?” he said. “It’s a shame, it’s such a shame.”
He then mentioned the multitude of signs apparently poking fun at the idea the protests are not subject to COVID-19 gathering restrictions labeled attendees as “peaceful protesters” or read “this is a protest.”
He suggested their gathering might serve as “a protest against stupidity” or one against “Sleepy Joe.”
He joked with the crowd about its size, mentioning that he was told on the plane that there was “just a smattering” of people waiting for him.
“We’ve got a lot of people here,” he said, which was met with cheers. “We’re outside which actually makes people happy. This doesn’t include the 10,000 people they had to turn away. Sometimes you have Democrats running an airport.”
Later in his speech, Trump expressed his support for Line 3.
During the speech, word was received that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Friday at age 87. Unless Trump was told prior to deplaning, it seemed he may have been unaware during the speech.
A voice from the crowd shouted, “Ginsburg just died!”
Trump did not make any mention of her passing during his speech, though a vacant Supreme Court seat adds even greater weight to the Nov. 3 election.
Originally, Trump was scheduled to speak in Mosinee, Wisc. immediately following the Bemidji event, however, it was held Sept 17, instead, so he did not need to end the speech in time to fly to another engagement.
Trump's speech was sprinkled with many of his regular rally talking points: Hillary Clinton's email scandal, to echoes of “lock her up”; on Biden, “Truth is, he’s not fit to be president”; a tangent surrounding conservative leaders, historical statues and Abraham Lincoln; and expected shots at Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Gov. Tim Walz, all met with boos.
While Trump's speech went into the evening, the day began early for many Great American Comeback Tour attendees.
Due to parking restrictions, attendees were shuttled in from an offsite parking location.
Upon arriving at the airport, attendees waded through entry gates, picked up masks, had their temperatures taken and collected signs upon entry, and went through TSA-style screening. Although free face masks were made available to the attendees at multiple points during the event, they did not appear to be widely worn once inside.
Announcements indicated only Trump-Pence campaign merchandise would be allowed on the premises and that anyone intending to protest needed to go to a designated protest area.
Once inside, crowds milled around to the tune of patriotic music, as well as Celine Dion, Backstreet Boys and David Bowie.
Current state guidelines restrict large gatherings at 250 people. The rally crowd easily passed this tenfold.
The crowd size was the first of many digs at Gov. Walz throughout the evening.
Republican Michelle Fischbach, a candidate for Minnesota’s 7th Congressional district, mentioned that while conservatives will have to wait more than two years to try to vote Walz out of office, it’ll be worth the wait.