FARGO — A limousine carrying President Donald Trump and North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., from Hector International Airport to Scheels Arena set the stage for a White House visit for the North Dakota State football team.
Hoeven even gave the president some advice on how to begin a rally for Trump and then-senatorial candidate Kevin Cramer.
“I said, ‘Mr. President, if you start your speech off that it’s great to be here at the home of the Bison, the people will love it,’” Hoeven said. “And of course, he did. There was a huge reaction and so he kind of remembered that. He knows the Bison.”
Trump will meet the Bison national championship team March 4 in a ceremony in the Rose Garden. Hoeven said he and Trump agreed to an event for the Bison football team “some time ago,” but held off in announcing it until last week.
“Talking to the president about it, he said we’re going to have a nice event for the Bison,” Hoeven said. “We’re just getting into the planning of it now.”
NDSU is scheduled to charter a plane for a one-day trip to Washington, D.C., a trip that will be funded with private donations, Hoeven said. Hoeven said it will be a celebration of the seven NCAA Division I FCS national titles the Bison have won in the last eight years.
Hoeven has been to six of the seven title games in Frisco, Texas, missing only this year because of his work schedule.
He was part of the memorable first championship in 2011 when NDSU linebacker Travis Beck, from Munich, N.D., was named the game’s most valuable player.
“From small-town North Dakota,” Hoeven said. “Travis Beck. What an athlete. It was poetic.”
Hoeven has been a frequent fan at NDSU home games over the years, calling Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome one of the greatest places in the country to watch a game.
“I’ve been to pro games, you name it, nothing in my view compares to being in the dome,” he said.
The White House traveling party is expected to comprise of Bison players, coaches, administrators and those involved in the fundraising for the trip. Hoeven said he believes former head coach Chris Klieman, now at Kansas State, will be in attendance.
Cramer and North Dakota Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., are expected to be there.
“NDSU is so deserving,” Hoeven said.
Hoeven also pointed out to Trump that NDSU hasn’t lost to an FBS program since 2009. NDSU is 9-3 overall against the FBS, including the last six in a row.
Trump asked him if NDSU could beat Alabama or Clemson. The response was met with some friendly banter.
“The president likes sports,” Hoeven said.