Trump to Attend Minnesota GOP Fundraiser Amid Hush Money Trial Break

Former President Donald Trump will visit Minnesota on Friday for a Republican fundraiser, taking a day off from his hush money trial. Trump will headline the state GOP’s annual Lincoln Reagan dinner in St. Paul, coinciding with the party’s state convention. He plans to attend after his son Barron’s high school graduation in Florida.

Trump, who attended the graduation with his wife, Melania Trump, and her father, Viktor Knavs, will use part of the day granted by the trial judge for the graduation to campaign in Minnesota. He argues he can win the traditionally Democratic state in a November rematch with President Joe Biden. No Republican presidential candidate has won Minnesota since Richard Nixon in 1972, although Trump came close in 2016, losing to Democrat Hillary Clinton by 1.5 percentage points. In 2020, Biden defeated Trump by more than 7 percentage points in the state.

“I think this is something Trump wants to do. He believes this is a state he can win. We believe that’s the case as well,” David Hann, the chairman of the Republican Party of Minnesota, said in an interview.

However, Democratic U.S. Sen. Tina Smith of Minnesota, a Biden ally, dismissed Trump’s chances, saying the campaign is “grasping at straws” if it thinks he can win the state.

“The Biden campaign is going to work hard for every vote,” Smith said. “We’re going to engage with voters all over the state. But I think Minnesota voters are going to choose President Biden.”

Barron Trump graduated from the private Oxbridge Academy in West Palm Beach, Florida. The former president had previously complained that Judge Juan M. Merchan would not let him attend the graduation before Merchan agreed not to hold court on Friday.

Friday’s dinner is co-hosted by Hann and Trump’s state campaign chair, House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, who represents a central Minnesota district. Hann credited Emmer with being instrumental in bringing Trump to Minnesota.

Tickets for the dinner started at $500, with VIP tables for 10 costing up to $100,000, which included three photo opportunities with Trump. Hann declined to estimate the total amount raised but anticipated a full house of around 1,400 people.

All proceeds from dinner ticket sales will go to the state party, although Hann noted some money from photo opportunities might go to the Trump campaign.

Experts are divided on whether Minnesota will be competitive this time, considering its Democratic history and strong Democratic ground game. However, Hann pointed to “great dissatisfaction with President Biden” in the state, highlighting that nearly 19% of Democratic voters in the Super Tuesday primary marked their ballots for “uncommitted,” partly due to a protest-vote movement over Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war that has spread to several states.