ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican Party nominee for President.
But Minnesota GOP leaders aren’t rushing to embrace him just yet, suggesting Trump may have work ahead of him to gain support from Minnesota Republicans. Trump finished a distant third in the Minnesota Caucus behind Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.
Now, top state Republicans are starting to come to grips with the New York billionaire as the party nominee.
“I don’t think you can say I will support him or I will not support him,” Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt, Minnesota’s highest ranking Republican, said. “I’m not saying either one.”
Daudt, who is also a national convention delegate, won’t say if he supports Trump but says he will vote Republican in the fall.
“I don’t know why that is important. You weren’t asking me yesterday who I supported. Or the day before who I supported. Who I support for president won’t impact who Minnesotans are going to support for President,” Daudt said.
The head of the Minnesota’s State Republican Party also stopped short of endorsing Trump, saying he’ll remain neutral until convention delegates are selected.
Chairman Keith Downey issued this statement: “Congratulations to Donald Trump and his team on their victory in Indiana. With his win he has now become the presumptive Republican nominee for President. For now, here in Minnesota, our job is to continue a fair process to elect the rest of our national delegates at the two remaining congressional district conventions this weekend and at the state convention on May 21.”
A spokesman for 2nd District Congressman John Kline, who’s retiring this year, said, “Congressman Kline intends to support the GOP nominee.”
And 3rd District Congressman Erik Paulsen’s campaign issued this statement: “Like a lot of voters, Erik has problems with both Trump and Clinton but expects to vote for the nominee.”
A spokeswoman for 6th District Republican Tom Emmer said, “Congressman Emmer has long said that regardless of who wins he would support the GOP Presidential nominee, and that stands as true today as it was when this race began.”
The strongest Trump endorsement came from a Democrat.
Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton — a Hillary Clinton supporter — praised Trump as a master strategist.
“I don’t underestimate him,” Dayton said. “I think he’s been underestimated throughout this process by people who have done so at their peril.”
A Minneapolis Star Tribune Minnesota Poll this week showed Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump in Minnesota by a wide margin, 48 percent to 35 percent.
The Minnesota Poll showed Trump losing to Bernie Sanders 53 percent to 38 percent.