Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Trump Campaign Comes To Minnesota

Last Saturday evening the first official event by the Trump campaign was held in St. Louis Park. It was an informal affair, an opportunity for those politically active to meet with several Trump campaign officials and surrogates. I wasn't able to attend but what I learned from various sources suggest this powerhouse of a campaign has no use for mediocre activists who go from one failed campaign to another, or to a caucus staff position or to the staff of a member of Congress. The stale direct mail monopolist routinely employed by Minnesota republican candidates (he's been known to threaten retribution via his legislator wife if his services aren't used) will make no money from the Trump effort this cycle. The other usual vendors will be out of luck as well.

In that regard, they are of a piece with the national political consulting class who can be daily seen on Twitter whining and complaining, often with the foulest language, about Trump and his supporters. For supposed experts in their line of work, and for the sheer awfulness that they say is Trump, it's remarkable--and an indictment--that none of their candidates can damage or slow him down, let alone catch and overtake him.

From those present at the gathering, it seemed the Trump people had an ability to readily sort the wheat from the chaff when it came to political help, something many of us have desired for ages. Polite, courteous, they seemed unimpressed with party titles or former positions on former campaigns. When you stop and think about it, this is all of a piece of an incredible phenomenon. You actually have to go out of your way to remind yourself that Trump has never before run for office.

The crowd this event attracted is perhaps the most interesting feature of the night: young and old, a black hair dresser with friends from St. Paul, Hispanics and Asians, high school educated, college educated. The broad demographic appeal of Trump is played down by the mainstream media and the consultant class. Yet even in Minnesota the people that took time out on a Saturday evening to learn more shows just how varied it is. It shows what a Trump general election victory would look like.

Minnesota is a joke in presidential years because of the mindless liberal voters here. Yet Trump clearly believes it's worth some of his people's time to make an appearance and to rally his supporters. And some of those liberals were among the crowd last weekend. I'm under no illusion that Trump will win the Minnesota caucus on March 1st. In fact, second place would be remarkable although I think it more likely Sen. Ted Cruz will win that spot.

A Trump gathering that same weekend in Duluth attracted over one hundred people. A few photos from that event were posted on Facebook and can be seen by clicking here. That there could be many traditional Iron Range democrat supporters of Trump is something my DFL sources tell me is an ongoing worry. Hillary Clinton is simply not liked in rural Minnesota and no amount of Twin Cities metro cheerleading will be able to change that.

Minnesotans aren't known for either their honesty or their bravery, Minnesota republicans even less so. Consequently I believe there are many in what's come to be called "the Trump closet." This is in greatest evidence in caucus states where one's vote is not private.

Standard issue conservatives here seem to have fallen into line behind Sen. Ted Cruz. The republican establishment in Minnesota is mostly behind the unaccomplished, robotic Marco Rubio who was destroyed in the New Hampshire debate by Gov. Chris Christie. He's currently battling Cruz for second place in South Carolina.

Rubio won't be our nominee but it's fitting that the establishment has dully fallen in behind him. After all, Minnesota republicans haven't won a statewide race in a decade and these people think things are just fine, it always works out for them. In 2016, however, they're in for a rude awakening.

Forget winter, spring is coming.