By David Schuman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The race for the White House is about to collide in Minnesota.

Both presidential candidates will be in the state Friday. Democratic challenger Joe Biden will make a stop in Duluth, and President Donald Trump has an event in Bemidji.

It is the first time a sitting president will visit the city. Trump’s supporters there are energized, as are Biden’s. Many people also feel an element of surprise that Bemidji’s airport was chosen for the visit.

“It was just like shock, like, ‘What? He’s coming here? Little old Bemidji?’” resident Phyllis Ryan said.

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Ryan’s daughter, Becky Skipper, is going to try to catch a glimpse of the plane with her daughters.

Brooke Limesand, a junior at Bemidji State, will be attending the event with her parents, who are coming down from close to the Canadian border.

Patti and Dan Mundt drove from Minneapolis to spend part of their 45th anniversary celebration seeing the president.

Mayor Rita Albrecht says the city’s expecting thousands of out-of-towners.

“This is an honor for the community to have the campaign come to us,” Albrecht said. “Even though we know that sometimes politics can be polarizing, we’re not expecting to have a lot of trouble.”

There are some signs of contention in town. Limesand’s landlord installed a Trump-Pence yard sign in the front of her house. She says other Bemidji State students mock the sign.

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Jesse Nehl, who’s helped run The Trump Shop since July selling merchandise, hired a security guard for Thursday and Friday as sales boomed this week.

“We don’t want the protesters, we don’t want the riots or anything like that,” Nehl said. “We don’t want our customers affected.”

Ryan says she’s concerned about public safety.

“A lot of people are just hoping that everybody behaves themselves and it doesn’t become violent,” she said.

Trump is scheduled to be at the airport hangar Friday from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Curtiss Hunt, Beltrami County’s DFL chair, says they’re planning a voter registration rally to counter.

David Schuman

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