MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will both appear at a Thursday evening campaign rally at Target Center in downtown Minneapolis, a move aimed at showing a united front in the face of an impeachment investigation against Trump.
Pence will also attend an event at Safety Signs in Lakeville earlier in the afternoon, the vice president's staff said Monday. Lakeville is within Minnesota's second congressional district, a seat held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Angie Craig but a district that Trump won in 2016. Republicans are targeting Craig for supporting the impeachment investigation.
Trump's 7 p.m. event is his first campaign rally since House Democrats launched the investigation last month. He lost Minnesota by 1.5 percent in 2016 and has said repeatedly that he plans to focus on the state in 2020.
"We believe that Minnesota is definitely in the category of moving into the president’s column," Tim Murtaugh, the president's campaign spokesman, said on a call with reporters. "We always intended to pay very close attention to Minnesota. We’re devoting significant resources of the campaign and the RNC to Minnesota – in fact, already are."
Trump is scheduled to be on the ground in Minnesota for less than five hours, according to flight restrictions posted at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
The brief visit has many of the president's supporters and opponents uneasy. The event will put tens of thousands of people in close quarters downtown.
Target Center holds around 20,000 people. Anti-Trump activists have planned a 5:30 p.m. Thursday protest outside Target Center, and said Monday they expected 15,000 to 20,000 people to attend that event.
The far-right militia group Oath Keepers posted online Monday morning seeking "calm, physically capable men" to provide security for Trump supporters outside the event.
Anti-Trump activists said the presence of militia groups made them nervous.
"We are preparing for a very peaceful protest, but we are definitely alarmed that these groups are calling on well-known militias who usually are armed," said Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Minnesota.
Monday morning, crews were dropping off metal fencing and concrete barricades in front of Target Center.
John Elder, a spokesman for Minneapolis Police, said the agency was working with its partners on a security plan for Thursday. The department has a history of planning for major events, including the Final Four and Super Bowl, he said.
"The Minneapolis Police Department is accustomed to delivering public safety while ensuring the First Amendment right to protest is met," Elder said in an email.
Here are the events that Trump, Pence or their family members are participating in this week in Minnesota:
6 p.m. Wednesday: Second lady Karen Pence and Trump daughter-in-law Lara Pence are scheduled to participate in a "Women For Trump" event at Union Depot in St. Paul
3:50 p.m. Thursday: Vice President Pence is scheduled to land in the Twin Cities before going to traffic control company Safety Signs in Lakeville
7 p.m. Thursday: Trump and Pence are scheduled to appear at a campaign rally at Target Center in downtown Minneapolis