BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — It took North Dakota’s leading oil industry group, the state’s lone congressman and an oil billionaire from Oklahoma to lure Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump to Bismarck.
Trump’s keynote Thursday at the annual Williston Basin Petroleum Council Conference and Expo was sold out, with more than 4,000 tickets made available in addition to those included with expo attendees’ registration. More than 7,000 people were expected to hear Trump’s speech.
North Dakota Petroleum Council President Ron Ness said the process to attract Trump began weeks ago, with help from U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer and Continental Resources Chairman Harold Hamm, both of whom are Trump supporters.
Hamm’s Oklahoma City-based company is the largest leaseholder of oil-drilling rights in North Dakota.
North Dakota’s 28 delegates — at least those who had committed — were largely for Ted Cruz before the Texas senator dropped out after losing the Indiana primary. Most of the delegates were expected to turn out at the expo in a show of support for Trump.
The 24th annual petroleum conference features dozens of speakers, from politicians to top oil company executives, and industry-specific seminars. More than 2,650 people are attending from more than 30 states and several countries, Ness said.
North Dakota Republican Party Chairman Kelly Armstrong said Trump’s address to oil-rich North Dakota is a “perfect opportunity for him to have a real significant contrast with Hillary Clinton on energy policy. All of the on-shore energy players in the world are here.”
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