will hold a campaign rally Thursday in Minneapolis, a city where he is now openly feuding with the mayor over the $530,000 in costs associated with the event.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey triggered an onslaught of criticism from Trump when he said the president’s campaign would be on the hook for the more than half-million in expenses.
The Trump campaign responded by threatening a lawsuit, accusing the mayor of extortion and claiming Frey was attempting to restrict the First Amendment rights of the president and his supporters.
“Someone please tell the Radical Left Mayor of Minneapolis that he can’t price out Free Speech. Probably illegal!” Trump tweeted Tuesday.
“Someone tell the President of the United States that he can afford to help pay for the extra time our officers will be putting in while he’s in town,” responded Frey, a first-term mayor who has frequently ripped the president.
Trump campaign manager said Tuesday that the Target Center had backed off canceling the event over the costs, and that the rally would go forward as planned.
The fight has roots in the Trump campaign's history of unpaid bills to local municipalities after campaign events. But Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign's communications director, asserted that Secret Service, not the campaign, coordinates on any additional security needs, and dismissed Frey's comments as political grandstanding.
“You tell me what the motivation is here after the guy’s been tweeting about how the president isn’t welcome,” Murtaugh said.
Trump seems to be landing in enemy territory with the Twin Cities visit.
His Target Center rally will take place in the congressional district of Rep. (D-Minn.), a frequent Trump critic.
The president came under bipartisan criticism earlier this year for a tweet that said Omar and three other first-year, female lawmakers should go back to their home countries. All four are U.S. citizens of color; Omar is the only one born outside the United States. She is a refugee from Somalia.
A “send her back” chant directed at Omar during a North Carolina rally also drew heavy criticism for the president, and all eyes will be on Minneapolis to see if it is used on Thursday.
At the same time, Trump narrowly lost Minnesota in the 2016 presidential election, and it is one of just two or three states won by that Republicans think Trump might be able to flip in 2020.
Trump lost the state by just 1.5 percentage points in the 2016 election. Campaign officials cited the state's strong economy and Trump's ability to elevate Democrats who are unpopular statewide as factors that could boost his chances of winning Minnesota in 2020.
Vice President Pence will join Trump at the rally, and and will attend a Women for Trump event on Wednesday.
“As a campaign, the most valuable thing we will ever have is the president's time. So the fact that he’s willing to go to Minnesota this early is a very strong indicator that we think we can win Minnesota," said Tim Murtaugh, the communications director for the Trump campaign.
Trump has sought to elevate Omar and make her a face of the Democratic Party. It’s a strategy he’s expected to employ in Minnesota, as Omar is less popular statewide than in Minneapolis.
“If Democrats are going to win in Minnesota they need to present a moderate image. Trump undermines that by elevating very liberal Democrats,” said Alex Conant, a GOP strategist who worked on presidential campaigns for Sen. (R-Fla.) and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R).
Omar's campaign sent out a fundraising email on Wednesday urging supporters to donate to her campaign ahead of the president's appearance in her home district.
“We can’t imagine what hateful, xeonophobic lies he’ll feel emboldened to spread when he’s right in her district,” the email stated.
Conant said it will be an “uphill climb” for Trump to win Minnesota, noting that Democrats in the state outnumber Republicans.
But Trump lacked the unified GOP support in 2016 that he benefits from now, Conant noted, and the president could be further aided if Democrats tack too far left heading into next year's election.
“The sort of Democrats that tend to win statewide tend to look more like (Gov. Tim) Walz or (Sen. Amy) Klobuchar than Sen. Warren (D-Mass.) or Omar,” Conant said. “So I think by going into Rep. Omar’s district, he can paint the contrast that he needs if he’s going to win.”
In taking on Minneapolis and its mayor, Trump is adding to the municipalities with which he has feuded.
Trump has in recent months gone after the congressional representatives and local leaders of Baltimore, Dayton, Cincinnati, Oakland and San Francisco, seeking to paint urban centers as decaying and floundering under Democratic leadership.
Thursday also will mark Trump's first rally since House Democrats launched a formal impeachment inquiry late last month. Trump often veers off script at his rallies, presenting the possibility that he will lay out his rawest defense yet.