Dayton says he’s willing to welcome Trump

A lot of eyes are on which political figures angle for face time with President Donald Trump when he’s in Minnesota next week for his first visit since taking office. One name might surprise you: Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.

Dayton said Thursday that the White House was informed that he would be willing to travel to Duluth to shake hands with the Republican president upon his arrival. Trump will be in Minnesota on Wednesday for a campaign rally and so far there are no indications of an official component to the trip, such as a policy speech or tour around an administration initiative.

“I would be very willing to greet him when he arrives at the tarmac,” Dayton said. “I think that’s very appropriate as governor to greet a president who is arriving in our home state. Whether that’s accepted or not remains to be seen. But I did make that offer.”

He said he has yet to hear back from Trump’s team.

Dayton extended similar greetings to Democratic President Barack Obama during his two terms.

Dayton said the only time he has spoken with Trump was a brief interaction in a reception line in the early days of his presidency. Dayton said Trump voiced regret about not making more campaign stops in Minnesota in 2016 given how close he came to winning its electoral votes.

“He’s more than welcome here anytime,” Dayton said. “I hope he comes back again on public matters.”

The stated reason for Trump’s visit is to promote the candidacy of 8th Congressional District Republican candidate Pete Stauber and other members of the ticket. U.S. Senate candidate Karin Housley said she will be there. So will Jeff Johnson, the party’s endorsed candidate for governor, who said he hopes to draw a mention or more from the president.

Johnson’s August primary rival, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, hasn’t committed yet to attending.