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Former President Donald Trump headlined the state Republican Party's annual Lincoln Reagan Dinner on Friday in St. Paul, repeatedly ripping President Joe Biden, promising to fight to turn Minnesota red and return to one-day voting and paper ballots.

"We want a landslide in your state and we want a landslide in our nation that is too big to rig," Trump said during his 80-minute speech in St. Paul. He ticked off a long list of things he would do in a second term, such as building an Iron Dome missile defense system over the country with "much of it being built in a place called Minnesota."

The presumptive GOP presidential nominee repeatedly mocked Biden not just for his policies but how he walks and talks. "I'm going to rescue Minnesota from all the ravages, and we're going to rescue the Iron Range again," Trump said, adding that he wants Biden drug-tested before their televised debates.

Trump lamented inflation, electric vehicles and anything made in China, and referred to Biden as the "worst president in the history of the country." He lamented "Bidenomics" and said he no longer eats bacon because it's too expensive.

Trump criticized Minnesota's absentee and early voting processes, saying it "gives them more time to cheat." There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Minnesota.

The crowd erupted into the loudest applause of the night and a standing ovation when Trump said he would cut off funding to any school teaching critical race theory as well as any school with a vaccine mandate.

"I will keep men out of women's sports," he said multiple times.

Trump mused about why Biden is competitive with him. "There's only one way it can happen: They cheat," he said, again without giving any evidence. Republicans have to "guard the vote. They'll do anything. They have no shame," he said.

The former president even complained that his teleprompter at RiverCentre fell before he started to speak, and then he shook the rostrum.

"Who put this stage up? The fricking place is falling down," Trump said. "I noticed it keeps tilting toward the left, like too many other things. What a crappy contractor this was."

He skipped among subjects in an unstructured speech with a constant stream of criticism of Biden. "We are a nation that has lost its confidence and willpower and strength," he said.

He claimed Biden is "reportedly planning to bring in massive numbers of Gazans from the Middle East and resettle them in our communities."

The crowd responded by booing and Trump said, "I'm surprised at Minnesota. I thought you were a very liberal place." The crowd responded with, "Nooooo."

"You've had enough, right?" Trump responded.

The crowd rose to its feet as he wrapped up by saying the forgotten people will no longer be forgotten and pledged to make America strong, proud, safe and free again. The crowd joined in as he finished with, "And we will make America great again."

Before Trump spoke, U.S. Reps. Tom Emmer, Michelle Fischbach and Pete Stauber pumped up the crowd about the prospect of big Republican gains in November.

More than 1,000 donors reportedly paid at least $500 per plate, and up to $100,000 for a top-tier table with VIP treatment and photos with Trump. Attire ranged from buffalo plaid shirtsleeves and ballcaps for the men to casual summer dresses and sparkly evening wear for the women.

Emmer, the House minority whip, thanked Trump, saying he helped get the party out of debt for the first time in more than a decade.

U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer greets attendees at the state Republican Party's annual Lincoln Reagan dinner on Friday.
U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer greets attendees at the state Republican Party's annual Lincoln Reagan dinner on Friday.

Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

Emmer called out Minnesota's Democratic U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar: "By the way, Ilhan, if you're listening, you should support the country that has been so good to you."

He said that if Omar's unhappy here, she should move elsewhere. "And by the way, don't let the door hit you on the way out," Emmer said.

He noted that his campaign would donate $100,000 to the state GOP.

Attendees dined on the usual convention fare: pre-plated green salads, chicken under white sauce, green beans and slices of cheesecake.

High-ranking DFLers preemptively criticized the former president at a state Capitol news conference.

"On the one hand, you have Joe Biden and Kamala Harris fighting for Minnesota's families and for the hard-fought progress that we have made," U.S. Sen. Tina Smith said. "And on the other hand, you have Donald Trump, who is fighting for himself."

Former President Donald Trump speaks at the state Republican Party's annual Lincoln Reagan fundraising dinner Friday in St. Paul.
Former President Donald Trump speaks at the state Republican Party's annual Lincoln Reagan fundraising dinner Friday in St. Paul.

Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

Gov. Tim Walz criticized Trump for falsely claiming he won Minnesota in 2020. "That is such an outrageous statement; it is such an attack on the very fundamentals of our democracy. He lost by over seven points," Walz said. "And for him to crow that he thinks he has a chance, I remind folks, Joe Biden came closer in Texas than Donald Trump did in Minnesota."

The dinner capped the first day of the state Republican Convention. Throughout the day, protesters wandered the streets around the giant RiverCentre. The DFL-aligned political fund Alliance for a Better Minnesota set up a mobile billboard that read, "Donald Trump & Minnesota Republicans want to ban abortion."

By evening, a couple hundred anti-Trump protesters gathered outside to chant and voice their dislike for the former president and his policies on abortion and immigrant rights.

"I just think he's a despicable human being, even when he wasn't a politician," said Chuck Justice of Woodbury.

About 30 pro-Trump demonstrators also gathered and said they were thrilled by the visit. Waving a Trump 2024 flag, Doug Kern of Brainerd said he thinks the former president would improve the country overall.

"We're on a grease slide going down, and it has to stop," Kern said.

Staff writers Ryan Faircloth and Louis Krauss contributed to this report.

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