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Our View: Don’t expect reimbursement for Trump visit

December 19, 2018

It’s supposed to be an honor when the president of the United States visits your city, even if it is for a campaign rally.

Citizens of all political stripes like to see their leader, whether or not they agree with him politically. The president is a historic figure, arguably still the most important person in the free world. To see him in person is to get a different perspective — to take the measure of the man free of sound bites and edited video.

So while we’re not thrilled about the $102,000 it cost taxpayers when President Donald Trump came to Rochester in October, we also understand it’s part of the bargain when hosting a president. Do we wish a part of it would be reimbursed? Of course, especially since this was nothing more than a partisan campaign rally. Will we kick and scream if no reimbursement is forthcoming? No.

The Secret Service, which provides security for the president, pays its own costs. Local taxpayers, though, pick up the tab for law enforcement officials who were assigned to provide additional security. Police, sheriff’s deputies and State Patrol officers were stationed along the motorcade route from the airport to downtown, and around the outside of Mayo Civic Center, where Trump’s rally was held. They were there to make sure citizens and bystanders were safe.

In today’s divided partisan political climate, it’s natural people will complain about the costs of hosting a president, who is, after all, a politician. We suspect that if Abraham Lincoln himself showed up, there would be naysayers. We’re not always in agreement with this president, either. Nor did we always agree with the previous president.

But as we said before Trump’s visit, we respect the office and all that it signifies. In that regard, we’re proud of the way even protesters acted respectfully and in a non-violent manner during the Rochester event.

The estimated cost to taxpayers of the president’s visit doesn’t take into account the local economic impact. The Trump campaign paid $100,000 to rent Mayo Civic Center for the rally. There has been no official estimate of how much out-of-town visitors for the rally spent locally on meals, gas and lodging.

While he was in Rochester, the president made no major policy announcement, signed no important declaration. The Minnesota statewide candidates he campaigned for lost their election bids.

All of that aside, we still think a presidential visit to a mid-size city is a big deal — and it comes with a price tag to match.

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