HERMANTOWN, Minn. — About 50 supporters gathered to await the arrival of a pink "Women for Trump" bus Sunday morning, Oct. 11, in Hermantown, outside the reelection offices of President Donald Trump and U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber.
It's the second time the bus tour has stopped in the Twin Ports area during this election season, having gathered a small crowd in August.
The main draw Sunday was South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, whose profile has risen due to her response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Let's all just have an honest conversation today. You all had no idea who I was six months ago," Noem said. "The only reason you know who I am today is because the liberals have been kicking me in the head for the decisions I've made for my people in South Dakota."
Noem detailed her decision-making process for choosing not to lock down or enact any form of stay-at-home or face-mask orders. She credited Trump for the opportunity to choose on behalf of her state.
"He knew that governors would make decisions for their people, and I'd have the opportunity to do what's best for my state," Noem said. "I didn't even define what an essential business is because governors don't have the authority to tell you your business is not essential."
Noem said South Dakota's budget saw a surplus, has one of the lowest death rates in the nation and has seen increased tourism. She said South Dakota can be a "pilot project for the nation" to show that "conservative reforms work."
University of Minnesota Duluth student Jacob Ringstad said he attended the event to "see the governor of freedom" along with the Minnesota Republican Party chairperson Jennifer Carnahan.
"I've seen her in the news with keeping her state open and not overusing her powers as governor," Ringstad said. "It was great to see the crowd and the women for Trump come out."
Carnahan stressed the importance of the election and asked supporters to help make it a "historic election."
"Statewide, President Trump came within 1.5 points of defeating Hilary Clinton and won 78 of our 87 counties," Carnahan said, and "… we have not delivered our 10 electoral votes to a Republican candidate for president since Richard Nixon in 1972. With 23 days left on the line, we are poised to make history in Minnesota."
Making history was a theme throughout the event. Noem and Carnahan were joined by Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on the tour bus. Rutledge is the first woman and first Republican elected attorney general in Arkansas. She said she was honored to join the tour through Minnesota as "Arkansas is a safe red seat."
"But it's important we take this message across America because we need four more years of President Trump to keep us working," Rutledge said.
Hermantown was the first stop on the tour, which is set to make stops in Virginia, Brainerd, Moorhead, Fergus Falls and Marshall over the next few days.