Vice President Mike Pence will join President Donald Trump at a rally in downtown Minneapolis on Thursday as the country's two top elected leaders put on a tag-team effort to deliver Minnesota to the Republicans in 2020.
The vice president's office announced Monday that Pence also will visit the suburban Twin Cities district of U.S. Rep. Angie Craig, a first-term Democrat who recently came out in favor of an impeachment inquiry of the president. White House officials said Pence will argue that Craig should spend time trying to work with the administration on trade, drug prices and other issues.
The trip is part of a White House push against Democrats who back the House impeachment probe and represent districts that Trump carried in 2016. Pence is making similar visits this week and in the coming days to Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin and Virginia.
Craig, one of the last House Democrats to back the House inquiry, said it not her sole focus. "If I had the opportunity, I'd share with the vice president in this district, that ... almost 80 percent of the bills that I'm on are bipartisan," Craig told the Star Tribune. "So maybe we can't work together on a few things, but there's 80 percent of the stuff we can work together on."
The Trump-Pence rally at the Target Center on Thursday will be the culmination of two days of visits by members of the Trump and Pence families. "This week is a big one for Minnesota Republicans," Jennifer Carnahan, the state party chairwoman, said Monday.
A visit by both the president and vice president to the same metropolitan area on the same day is unusual, representing a potent display of political firepower in a state that Trump has vowed to flip to the Republican column for the first time in presidential politics going back to 1972. Trump's rally also will be his first campaign event since the House impeachment probe gained major new momentum.
The Twin Cities visits also demonstrate anew the emphasis the Republican National Committee has placed on Minnesota, a state Trump nearly won in 2016. Pence is scheduled to attend an afternoon "meet and greet" at Safety Signs in Lakeville, in Craig's Second Congressional District. His office said he'd then travel to downtown Minneapolis to attend the rally with Trump.
Building local GOP energy ahead of the rally, Second Lady Laura Pence and Lara Trump, the president's daughter-in-law, are scheduled to join in a discussion at a "Women for Trump" event on Wednesday.
Craig came out in favor of the impeachment probe two weeks ago, following initial revelations that Trump prodded the new Ukrainian president to investigate Vice President Joe Biden and his son's business dealings in that country. Democrats have accused Trump of using the machinery of government to undermine a political rival.
The Trump campaign's focus on Craig is telling. In 2016, Trump carried the Second District by just over 1%. That same year, Craig lost the congressional race to Republican Jason Lewis by a similar margin. In 2018, Craig beat Lewis in a rematch by more than 5 percentage points.
The Second District includes parts of the southeastern Twin Cities metro as well as exurban areas farther south.
So far, there is only one announced Republican candidate challenging Craig next year. Rick Olson is a former state legislator from Michigan with no previous political experience in Minnesota. Lewis is running for the U.S. Senate next year instead.
Craig's campaign announced on Monday that she raised $500,000 in the past three months, giving her a campaign war chest of $1.1 million for her re-election campaign.