The Inside Story: American Experiment Attends Trump’s Mining and Trade Policy Roundtable in Duluth

Yesterday I attended President Donald Trump’s roundtable on mining and trade. It was obvious from the content of the speech that Trump considers Minnesota to be a very big deal.

Trump opened with a monologue about how the country is doing, touting low unemployment numbers, 3.2 percent GDP growth, and other metrics that signal a strong economy.

He even got in a few remarks about the “Fake News,” signalling to the reporters in the back of the room, which garnered laughter from the sold-out crowd. Afterward, the talk turned to mining and trade.

It was clear the taconite and steel industries of northern Minnesota were grateful for the tariffs placed on steel and aluminum. There was talk of people returning to work and getting raises.

Then copper-nickel mining received the President’s attention. There was talk of the land exchanges needed to go through with the PolyMet and Twin Metals projects.

Babbitt Mayor Andrea Zupancich also spoke as part of the roundtable. Zupancich was wearing a pro-mining shirt, and spoke of the importance of new mining opportunities in the region because of the important role mining plays in funding Minnesota schools.

Zupancich said “We have a lot to gain and even more to lose.”

Trump said the process is now in the hands of Sonny Purdue, the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, but hinted Zupancich may like his work on the topic.

More striking than any of the nuts-and-bolts talk about trade or mining policy was the crowd’s reaction to Trump’s comments about the forgotten men and women in the United States. Heads were nodding in agreement and it was clear people living in Greater Minnesota feel as if they’re being left behind.

Photos to come…