Donald Trump Campaign Rally
Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Having only lost Minnesota by 1.5 percentage points in 2016, the Trump campaign has made it clear that they think they can win the state in 2020. That’s what Thursday night’s rally in Minneapolis was all about. Peter Nichols wrote about the strategy.

One Republican operative close to the White House, speaking anonymously to discuss campaign strategy, told me that Trump is convinced of the old political adage “The race will hinge on turnout.” If he can mobilize and excite his base voters, they’ll show up in force, much as they did in 2016, impeachment be damned…

“His message is so edgy, and his core support is so intense and enthusiastic, and the rallies are so unlike anything we’ve seen in the modern era,” the strategist told me. “Arithmetically speaking, this election is about jacking up turnout of your own supporters on the theory that no one on their side of the ball excites them the way Trump excites us,” he said, referring to the Democrats.

If that’s the plan, then we can look at Thursday night’s speech to see how Trump plans to excite his supporters in order to get them to show up in force.

As Nichols pointed out, the first half of Trump’s speech was all about his personal grievances. He mocked FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, said that Joe Biden was “only considered a good vice president because he understood how to kiss Barack Obama’s ass,” called Ilhan Omar an “American-hating socialist,” and referred to congressional Democrats as “sick” for pursuing an impeachment inquiry.

Then Trump engaged in his second strategy for exciting his voters: racism. Because Minnesota is home to the largest concentration of Somalis in the country, they became his target.

He then went on to say that “we will always protect American families first” and that hadn’t happened in Minnesota. He said that he would not “allow a violent ideology to take root in our country on our shores” like had happened in Europe. Equating the Somali community in Minnesota with a “violent ideology” is not only a racist lie, it is the same kind of rhetoric that inspired the gunman in El Paso.

This is, however, merely a repeat of what Trump did in 2016 when he visited Minnesota two days before the election and told the crowd that they had “suffered enough” as a result of “filthy refugee vetting” that had allowed an influx of Somalis into the state.

When it comes to this part of Trump’s strategy, Elad Nehorai, who describes himself as a “proud progressive Orthodox Jew,” put it best. He wrote that “This is the kind of hate rally seen in authoritarian and fascist countries. We Jews have seen this before, as have countless other minorities. This is the powerful hurting the vulnerable to empower themselves.” Senator Amy Klobuchar echoed that statement.

I have often been proud to point out that, when it comes to the economy, my home state of Minnesota consistently performs better than the national average. One of the reasons why is because of the very immigrant community the president attacked. Here is the data from the Federal Reserve Board of Minneapolis.

With high levels of labor force participation and employment, African immigrants brought in $2.5 billion in earnings during 2015. These households paid $419 million in federal taxes and $222 million in state and local taxes, leaving African immigrants an estimated $1.8 billion in spending power. Despite its relatively small size, the African immigrant population makes significant contributions to the Minnesota economy.

At the end of his speech on Thursday night, Trump threw out a couple of lines about health care and a promise to end childhood cancer. But as Nichols wrote, “he read those parts without any particular vocal affect, perhaps because he doesn’t truly believe they’re the way to win.” It could also be because he doesn’t really give a shit about things like health care. In the end, the plan is to excite his base of supporters with a combination of grievance and racism, because that is exactly what excites him. But the truth is, that’s all he’s got.

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