Pence in Hibbing today for campaign rally

Aerial view of the Range Regional Airport outside Hibbing, Minn. (PHOTO: Range Regional Airport FB page)

Vice President Mike Pence and other Republican candidates will appear today at a rally at the Range Regional Airport in Hibbing. Just one week before the Nov. 3 election, the Trump campaign sees Minnesota as winnable despite polls that currently trend toward Joe Biden and the Democrats.

National campaign visits to northern Minnesota are typically rare, though there have been a number of visits this year. Joe Biden appeared in Hermantown late last month. President Trump has been here more often, visiting Bemidji and Duluth late last month.

Trump’s visit to Duluth was his last before announcing his COVID-19 diagnosis. The Washington Post detailed the lax public health protocols Trump campaign used at that rally late last week.

The same subject seems relevant today as Vice President Pence plans to speak at his 1 p.m. rally. Over the weekend, five staffers who work closely with Pence tested positive for the virus. Among them are his chief of staff and his “body man,” the personal attendant who stays near him at all times. Pence said that he has tested negative and will continue campaigning.

This bears mentioning, since rural northern St. Louis County and nearby Itasca County are both experiencing an uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 right now.

Further complicating matters is the debate on the floor of the U.S. Senate to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. This controversial appointment during the election campaign has drawn ire from Democrats and those who shared the GOP’s 2016 belief that such appointments are inappropriate. If for any reason the vote looks close, Pence will be needed in Washington, D.C., to break a tie.

I’ve written that my beloved homeland of northern Minnesota simply doesn’t have the votes to dramatically affect the outcome of next Tuesday’s election. Nevertheless, it feels like the wheels of history are digging deep ruts in this region. Sure, President Trump came to Duluth COVID-positive, but he also learned of the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg on the tarmac of the Bemidji airport while Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” blared in the background.

Just a few days left but it feels like miles to go before we sleep.

The doors for today’s rally at the airport open at 11 a.m. and close at 12:30 p.m. Pence and several other GOP candidates are scheduled to speak at 1 p.m. I’ll be working at the time, but I’m sure your favorite local TV news outlet will provide the breathless coverage you desire.

UPDATE: I neglected to mention that I tweeted some historical context on presidential and vice-presidential visits to Hibbing over the weekend.


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