Politics Trump launches all-out attack on refugees as he courts base in rural Minnesota
Why should Americans care about refugee resettlement?
We are calling for a return to U.S. leadership on this issue.The president has already reduced refugee admissions to the lowest levels since the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program began in 1980. Between then and the start of the Trump administration, U.S. presidents had, on average, authorized resettlement ceilings of about 96,000 refugees per year, with actual resettlement numbers averaging about 81,000 annually. For 2018, the first full fiscal year of the Trump administration, the president authorized the admission of only 45,000 refugees. At the time, this was the lowest ceiling in the history of the U.S.
BEMIDJI, Minnesota — President Trump warned voters in Minnesota their state would be turned into a "refugee camp" if his rival Joe Biden were elected in November, opening the "floodgates" to radical Islamic extremists as he launched a red-blooded appeal to his white base.
His campaign is targeting Minnesota as a possible pickup by appealing to voters' economic concerns.
But on Friday evening, he turned his bitterest rhetoric on the state's sizable population of Somali immigrants, describing himself as an American wall against chaos.
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"Every family in Minnesota needs to know about Sleepy Joe's plan to flood your state with an influx of refugees from Somalia, from other places, all over the planet," he said to boos.
"Biden has promised a 700% increase in the manifesto with Bernie ... on the importation of refugees from the most dangerous places in the world, including Yemen, Syria, and Somalia."
The state has backed Democratic presidential candidates for almost 50 years. Yet on Friday, its status as a battleground was evident with both Trump and Biden making appearances.
It has also been the epicenter of this summer's street protests after George Floyd was killed in police custody in Minneapolis.
Trump wasted no time in name-checking Ilhan Omar, the Somali-American U.S. representative for Minneapolis, and wading into his law-and-order argument that American cities would be reduced to ashes if Biden won.
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"Your state will state will be overrun and destroyed if Biden and the radical Left win," he said.
He was speaking at an airport just outside Bemidji, to a packed outdoor crowd that numbered in the thousands.
Bemidji is about 100 miles from the Canadian border and is perhaps best known for its role in folklore as the birthplace of mythical lumberjack Paul Bunyan. Its population of 15,000 and location in Minnesota’s Iron Range means it would have been passed over by Republican candidates of yesterday, but now, it sits amid the rural counties that thecould help it retain the White House.
The trip is Trump’s sixth to the state since winning power. Vice President Mike Pence will be in Minneapolis on Thursday.
Recent polls suggest they still have a lot of work to do. A rolling average maintained by tracking site FiveThirtyEight gives Biden an almost 9-point lead in a state that has not gone Republican since Richard Nixon’s 1972 landslide.
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But still, the Trump campaign is all-in. A close result in 2016, decided by less than 2 percentage points, and shifting allegiances in blue-collar America mean strategists see it as one of their best chances to add a state to the red column.
They insist that their internal polling puts the contest closer and that their better-developed ground game will be enough to increase the turnout in Trump’s rural strongholds.
In 2016, they had one staffer in the state who was sent to Colorado on Election Day. This time around, the number is 80.
It is a similar base-heavy strategy to the ones playing out in other key battlegrounds,and Wisconsin.
This week, the campaign also launched a $10 million ad buy, rolling out two spots contrasting Trump’s economic record with that of Biden's. They are running in Minnesota, along with other battlegrounds.
His supporters point to a string of policies that have helped Minnesota, including reversing an Obama-era prohibition on developing copper-nickel mining and cash help to farmers suffering because of the trade war with China.
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Democrats believe their strength in urban centers such as Minneapolis will carry the day and that voters will see through the president’s claims that he is best placed to help working people.
Eric Ostermeier, research fellow at the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota and the author of the, said the state was Trump’s second-narrowest loss in 2016, making it an obvious place to go on offense.
“Minnesota and New Hampshire are the logical places to start,” he said. “But the notion that Michigan would turn blue or Wisconsin would turn blue and Minnesota would turn red as compensation, to take a couple of their Midwestern states as examples, it’s actually never happened.”
Yet Trump’s claims have been bolstered by the recent defection of six Democratic mayors. They announced in August that they were backing Trump because of Biden’s history of supporting free trade deals, which they said cost the Iron Range thousands of jobs.
Former Democratic mayor of Duluth Gary Doty said their actions confirmed how Democrats had turned away from traditional supporters.
“That's absolutely unheard of,” he said of the defections in what was once a loyal Democratic region. “And it's something that since my time, when Eisenhower was president, I never thought would happen.”
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Why Donald Trump Thinks He Can Flip Minnesota .
No Republican presidential candidate has won Minnesota since 1972, but Trump has touted the state as one of his top 2020 pickup targets“This,” the President added, “is not the crowd of somebody that’s going to finish second in this state to Sleepy Joe,” his derisive nickname for Democrat Joe Biden.