Bloomberg vows to better understand rural America during Minnesota farm visit

Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg visited a farm in Wells, Minnesota. (FOX 9)

Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg said during a campaign stop at a southern Minnesota farm that he wants to better understand rural America.

But Bloomberg did not discuss his plans to improve the rural economy, as his campaign said he would. He also did not answer questions from Minnesota reporters, despite a campaign advisor saying Bloomberg was in the state to introduce himself to Minnesotans.

Bloomberg, a late comer to the presidential race, has already spent at least $2 million on television ads in the Twin Cities market, and more than $100 million nationwide. Wednesday’s visit was his first to Minnesota since joining the race.

“I want to better understand rural America,” Bloomberg said during a roundtable inside a large farm building. “I come from the city. But you’re the backbone of America.”

Bloomberg’s brief stop to the corn and soybean farm in Wells included a discussion with members of the Johnson family that owns the farm. Darin Johnson, a fourth-generation farmer, is the secretary of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association.

But the candidate himself spoke little during the visit. Bloomberg’s staff cut the microphones off as he was mid-sentence at a roundtable event, ending it after 14 minutes without Bloomberg discussing any specific policy proposals.

The job of explaining the proposals fell to a senior campaign advisor, Jim Anderson, who said Bloomberg would seek to improve rural internet access and boost funding for community and technical colleges.

While Bloomberg’s Democratic rivals focus on the early voting states, Bloomberg has instead zeroed in further down the primary calendar. The campaign will be intensely focused on states like Minnesota that vote on March 3, or Super Tuesday, Anderson said.

“Most of the candidates are in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, and Mike is in rural Minnesota because he wants folks here to get to know him better,” Anderson told reporters as Bloomberg looked at large farm implements and took photos with people.

The campaign will open field offices in Minnesota, Anderson said.

“We are seriously committed to Minnesota and you will see a strong presence from Mike Bloomberg here,” he said.

The southern Minnesota stop was the second of three campaign events for Bloomberg on Wednesday. He was in Chicago to make an economic policy announcement in the morning, and had an afternoon event scheduled in Akron, Ohio.

Bloomberg’s “all-in economy” proposals also include a $15-an-hour minimum wage.

During Wednesday’s farm visit, the Johnsons laid out the rural economic challenges for their visitor.

Farmers are hurting because of rising labor costs, a shortage of available workers, and the Trump administration’s ongoing trade war with China, Darin Johnson said. For example, China had previously bought one-third of the soybeans produced in the U.S., but the market quickly dried up in 2019 amid the trade dispute, he said.

“The weight’s been on the farmer’s back,” he said. “It’s been a tough load to bear.”