Trump came close to winning Minnesota in 2016, losing to Hillary Clinton by about 44,000 votes.
Trump told reporters ahead of his departure to Minneapolis that he believes he can win Minnesota in the upcoming election.
“I think we can win. It’s been a long time since a Republican won. We have a 20,000-seat auditorium, you know, it’s essentially Madison Square Garden … over 80,000 people requested tickets,” Trump said.
He added that he thinks Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar — his frequent political target and the member of Congress who represents the district where Trump will speak — “is helping us win in Minnesota and other places.”
Though Trump has yet to touch down in Minneapolis, he and his campaign have preempted the visit with battles with local government officials and the city’s police department.
Earlier this week, the Trump reelection campaign threatened to sue the Target Center in Minneapolis, where the rally is being held, over the arena’s half-million-dollar plus bill, passed to them by the city. The venue threatened to withhold the use of the space if the campaign did not pay.
The Target Center eventually withdrew the request, which was originally intended to enhance security measures during the President’s rally. The campaign announced Tuesday that Trump’s appearance will go on as planned and the campaign will not be paying the bill.
The President and his campaign appeared to pin the bill dispute on Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey, calling the bill an attempt to “extort” the campaign.
“The radical Mayor of Minneapolis, @Jacob_Frey, is abusing his power in an attempt to block the President’s supporters from seeing him speak on Thursday. We refuse to be bullied by a left-winger resister & won’t let him stifle the speech of @realDonaldTrump or his supporters!” Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale tweeted.
In another tweet, Parscale called Frey “a radical left-wing nutjob that is limiting free speech.”
Frey has pressed the campaign to pay for the extra security, tweeting, “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.” He has also said that Trump is not welcomed in the city.
“While there is no legal mechanism to prevent the president from visiting, his message of hatred will never be welcome in Minneapolis,” Frey said in a statement late last month.
The Minneapolis Police Union also criticized a recent ban by the Minneapolis Police Department prohibiting officers from wearing their uniforms at campaign events or in ads to support political candidates.
The union says the policy was implemented the day after Trump’s rally was announced, according to the Star Tribune. In response, the police union in the city created a “Cops for Trump” t-shirt.
Trump has tweeted that he loves the shirts, claiming that the website selling them had crashed. He’s also used the uniform ban as a springboard for broader attacks against Democrats, including Frey and Omar.
“Someone please tell the Radical Left Mayor of Minneapolis that he can’t price out Free Speech. Probably illegal! I stand strongly & proudly with the great Police Officers and Law Enforcement of Minneapolis and the Great State of Minnesota! See you Thursday Night!” Trump tweeted. “The lightweight mayor is hurting the great police and other wonderful supporters. 72,000 ticket requests already. Dump Frey and Omar! Make America Great Again!”