For those of us who choose to live in either Manitoba or Saskatchewan, the closest piece of America is the state of North Dakota. Now and then, we enjoy a weekend of shopping in Grand Forks or Minot, or maybe catch a bargain flight at the airport in one of those cities.
Not surprisingly, American Presidents have not visited North Dakota all that often. Teddy Roosevelt dropped by in 1903, and he sufficiently impressed the locals that they named a rather nice park after him. His distant cousin Franklin made it to the state four times during his lengthy stay in the White House.
Harry Truman made a couple of whistle stops in the early 50’s, but never really got off the train. Eisenhower flew into Minot in 1953 to help dedicate the Garrison Dam.
John Kennedy spoke at UND in Grand Forks on September 25 1963, just two months before he died on the streets of Dallas. Lyndon Johnson never came, but Richard Nixon made a speech at a Governors conference in Fargo in 1970.
Ronald Reagan and both Presidents named Bush made it that far north. Barack Obama was there for one day three years ago, and this week Donald Trump brought daughter Ivanka with him. He spoke to a carefully-chosen group at an oil processing plant in Mandan, just across the river from the capital of Bismarck.
Trump spoke for 40 minutes on tax reform, and the crowd hung on every word. He didn’t cut any ribbons, or sign any big cheques. He didn’t have to. Last November, Trump got 63% of the vote in North Dakota, the largest margin of victory in the longtime Republican stronghold since Reagan in 1980.
If another election were held tomorrow, chances are Trump might get 70% or more. They love his tough talk on immigration, and they don’t believe a word of the ‘fake news’ that’s out there about funny business with Russia.
It’s not surprising that mainstream media paid almost no attention to ‘Mr. Trump Goes to Bismarck’.
Less than two hours after he arrived, Air Force One was off the ground, and the Donald was back on his Twitter account.