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City, officials look forward after Trump’s visit

People gather outside of Amsoil Arena for President Donald Trump's rally Wednesday.Tyler Schank / tschank@duluthnews.com

If you heard a sound from City Hall late Wednesday, it may have been a sigh of relief following an exhaustive day spent playing host to President Donald Trump.

"It was a long day," Duluth Mayor Emily Larson said Thursday. "I did not fully relax until I knew we had made it through all the events ... and crowds had dispersed and traffic was flowing and President Trump had made it safely through his entire visit."

In the aftermath of the Trump campaign rally at Amsoil Arena, both parties were declaring victory in building buzz toward November's midterm election.

"The rally really was just unbelievable," Pete Stauber told Fox & Friends early Thursday morning while appearing on the national morning show via satellite from a downtown Duluth diner.

Trump came to the city in support of Stauber's GOP-endorsed campaign in the race for the open seat in the 8th Congressional District. Stauber's 3-minute appearance on Trump's most-favored morning program gave Stauber an additional chance to squeeze more juice from the ballyhoo.

"I have Democratic mayors on the Iron Range who have come out and supported me," Stauber told Fox & Friends, referring to multiple Range endorsements. "They're taking the labels off and looking at what we've done."

Meanwhile, the DFL claimed its own momentum from the Trump visit, saying that during its resistance march downtown and subsequent rally in Lake Place Park it was able to register new voters and sign-up scores of volunteers to bolster its door-knocking and ground game.

"They're looking backwards as a nation," 8th District Democratic-Farmer-Labor party chair Emily Nygren said of Republicans. "Our message is more powerful than one speaker. We don't need a headliner to make that momentum."

The DFL will settle on its 8th District candidate from among five candidates at the Aug. 14 primary.

After it was over, President Trump noted the Duluth rally in his Twitter account, thanking people who attended and "at least 10,000 who could not get it." While rally organizers did deny entry to some people as the Duluth Fire Department kept close tabs on capacity, the president's boast was unfounded and the sort with which his observers have become familiar.

Nygren couldn't put a number on how many DFLers came out, but said, "We had a high turnout and it was a positive message all the way."

The city's public safety officials had received word of Trump's pending visit "7-10 days" before it was revealed to the public, Larson said. From the start, they knew it would come at a challenging time — just days after Grandma's Marathon, Duluth's biggest event of the year.

The mayor attended a final planning meeting with public safety officials and the Secret Service at 10 a.m. Wednesday, she said. She went both to make sure everything was in place and to thank leaders of the effort, Larson said.

"Because, at this point, we have team members who have been extremely focused on people's public safety with major events the past two weeks," she said. "It's a big day, the world is watching, we want everything to go well and it's important to thank and respect the effort that goes into that day."

What the event cost the city hasn't yet been determined, said Lt. Mike Ceynowa, public information officer for Duluth police. It likely will be around this time next week before that's figured out, he said.

A couple of hiccups occurred during the early phases of the event. An afternoon power outage affected more than 5,000 Minnesota Power customers, including the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center as people were already waiting in line to get into Amsoil Arena, and conditions for people waiting in the Northwest Passage section of the Skywalk became uncomfortably warm.

But Minnesota Power restored service to the DECC quickly, Larson said. "The air circulation in the Skywalk wasn't great, but as soon as we found out we all worked together to address that."

Larson said she chose not to be involved in organizing any of the events. She felt her job was help to ensure public safety.

Duluth police said two arrests were made during the Trump rally at Amsoil Arena. Police declined to offer any estimate of crowd sizes, either among the president's supporters or protesters.

The city doesn't have a say on whether a president comes to town, Larson said. When the president does come, it's the city has a responsibility not only ensure a safe visit but also to safeguard people's First Amendment rights, she said.

She was happy with how those responsibilities were met, Larson said.

"I was just really, really pleased with how everything went," she said. "I was very proud of our community. I think we showed ourselves to be civil, to demonstrate our views and opinions, and to do so in a way that was very respectful."

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