Tobias Mann – Winona Daily News
This story first appeared in the Winona Daily News
ROCHESTER — A sea of bright red Make America Great Again caps stretching back half a dozen blocks streamed toward the Mayo Civic Center Arena Thursday as thousands of Minnesotans eagerly awaited President Donald Trump’s arrival.
Dan Monahan, a 55-year-old cattle-hoof trimmer and farmer from Plainview, was among the thousands of faces that filled the crowd.
“I think he’s trying to work hard on our trade agreements to make them fairer for us,” he said of Trump.
Monahan said the president’s trade plans with Canada and Mexico have him hopeful. He said if they can bolster the cattle trade with Canada it would help Minnesota farmers who have been hurt by years of noncompetitive pricing.
“It should trickle down to us,” he said.
For 19-year-old Micaiah Kesler of Winona, the chance to see the president speak in person was reason enough to bear the cold and wait out the line.
“This is my first kind of political rally,” He said as he tucked his hands in his armpits. “I support a lot of his policies and believe he is good for the county.”
Kesler praised the president’s strong stance on the border, which the soon-to-be Marine called crucial to protecting national security.
“If you don’t have strong borders it leaves you open to the possibility of a foreign enemy getting in,” he said.
While Kesler was uncertain what the president’s visit Thursday would mean for Republicans in the midterm election next month, he said it would almost certainly amp up the party’s supporters.
“If anything it will be a motivational boost,” he said of Republicans.
Border security was a big issue on the mind of Brett Losinski, a retired soldier from New Ulm. The native of Winona credited the president for a dramatic drop in his taxes and for taking stronger steps to secure the border.
“Every time he comes close to us we try to make it over to him as quick as possible so we can get a good spot,” he said with enthusiasm.
However not everyone outside the Civic Center approved on the president’s stance on immigration.
Jean Cabrera, a 22-year-old student at Rochester Community Technical College, and Marco Loera, a 24-year-old undocumented immigrant from Mexico who has called Rochester his home for the past 14 years, were among those protesting the president’s visit.
Cabrera, a first-generation American, said the president repels her.
“The words he says, the things he says, the way he acts, the children he put in cages,” she said in exasperation. “It’s not humane.”
In her hand a sign that read “Hate does not make us great.”
“I’ve seen a lot of hate,” she said.
Moments later a rally-goer yelled “stupid ass sign,” at Cabrera.
“That’s hate,” she said “They don’t know me. I don’t show hate. I’ve been respectful with these people and so far I’ve been called awful names.”
While many rally goers felt Trump’s visit to Minnesota would reinvigorate the Republican base, Loera, a “Dreamer” who won’t be eligible vote in the upcoming election, said the president’s visit was just as likely to drive young Democratic voters to the polls.
“There is this blue wave they have been talking about, but if we don’t show up, this is our reality,” he said.