MINNEAPOLIS — A last-minute rally by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump drew thousands to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport two days before Election Day.
Trump urged cheering supporters in Minnesota to deliver a state the GOP hasn’t won in 40 years.
The candidate spoke for nearly 40 minutes to a crowd that spilled outside an airline hangar. Some political observers questioned his stop two days before the election in a place Republicans have lost in 10 straight presidential elections.
Trump says he’ll pull off an upset. “Oh Minnesota, you better prove me right,” he said. “Or these people will never, ever forget. You better prove me right. Are you going to prove me right?”
His remarks focused on trade problems and rising health care premiums affecting some in the state.
He also addressed immigration policy, an issue central to his campaign, saying that the U.S. would “not admit any refugees without the support of the local community where they are being placed.”
He says, “It’s the least they could do for you. You’ve suffered enough in Minnesota.”
Trump cited the September knife attack in a St. Cloud mall as he warned about the risks posed by radicalized immigrants. And he again singled out the Somali population, which in the past has condemned Trump’s comments.
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He says, “Here, in Minnesota, you’ve seen firsthand the problems caused with faulty refugee vetting, with large numbers of Somali refugees coming into your state without your knowledge, without your support or approval and with some then joining ISIS and spreading their extremist views all over our county and all over the world.”
Trump’s running mate Mike Pence is due in Duluth Monday.
A Republican hasn’t carried the state since Richard Nixon in 1972, and it was unclear whether Trump considers Minnesota in play against Democrat Hillary Clinton or whether he was looking for any option to try to block her path to 270 electoral votes and a win on Tuesday.
Republican Party of Minnesota Chairman Keith Downey said 17,000 requests for tickets poured in, but the number of people able to make it into the spacious Sun Country airplane hangar was likely to be far fewer. Thousands had arrived hours before Trump was to appear, and security lines stretched as far as the eye could see.
As Republicans and other supporters were lining up for the Trump rally, Democrats were pressing their supporters to get out to vote, and in a number of places around the state people were casting their ballots early.
Minnesota DFL party chair Ken Martin said he didn’t think Trump’s last minute stop would do much to sway voters.
“A last minute fly-by is not going to decide this election. Rallies and speeches will not decide this election,” Martin said. “Real Minnesotans will, with their voice and with their vote.”
Clinton hasn’t campaigned in Minnesota for months, and the state was not thought to be a battleground compared with bigger prizes, such as Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.