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From an A to 'Incomplete': How N.D., Minn. political leaders grade Trump's first 100 days

US President Donald Trump takes the oath of office with his wife Melania and son Barron at his side, during his inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

President Donald Trump's first 100 days in office have given the public plenty to talk about. But is he doing a good job?

It depends on who you ask. According to political leaders from North Dakota and Minnesota, the answer varies from an A to a B to disappointment in Trump's "ineffective" start.

Dan Myers, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Minnesota, declined to use a letter grade. He pointed to two stumbles so far: Trump's court-blocked travel ban of people from majority-Muslim countries and the lack of planning behind its rollout; and the implosion of a Republican push to repeal and replace Obamacare.

But Myers put the situation in context. Rating a president's first 100 days is a "strange artifact" of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's presidency, during which a flurry of activity reshaped Depression-era America.

"It's early in the term, a student is late on a big assignment. If they asked me what their grade was at that point, I would say it's an incomplete," Myers said. "I think Trump is demonstrating for all of us and hopefully finding out himself that governing is really difficult. I think the question for the rest of his term is if he's internalized the lesson—and what does he do with that?"

Here's a look at how political leaders from North Dakota and Minnesota scored Trump's first 100 days.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.

Grade: I for Incomplete

"I'm willing to work with anyone to stand up for North Dakotans, and President Trump has made a commitment to fight for workers and our economy. That's a good thing." Heitkamp said in an emailed statement. "But he has to show that he's more focused on rural America. That certainly wasn't clear from his budget, which would rip apart the fabric of rural communities like those across our state. During almost every meeting I've had with members of the president's cabinet, I made sure they understood that my priority has been and will continue to be making sure this Administration fights for rural American economies, families, and communities as hard as I do."

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.

Grade: B

"I'd say, generally, he's doing alright at this point. I think (he's) made good progress in some areas, but there's clearly more to do," Hoeven said in a phone interview, praising Trump's moves on "regulatory relief," the appointment of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and support for increased military spending.

"There have been some things that haven't gone as well—the initial rollout of the executive order on refugees," he said, referring to the travel ban. He said Trump's speech is less "measured" than the norm. "(But) I think he's becoming more presidential, if you will, in the role."

Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.

Grade: A

"When I stack him up in terms of accomplishments," Cramer said, breaking off to run down a list of praise, including "the optimism he's created in the job-creation world."

Like Hoeven, Cramer pointed to relaxed regulations and Gorsuch's Supreme Court appointment as positive moves. He defended Trump despite the House of Representatives not taking a vote on a Republican health plan in late March.

"Donald Trump in business knows that not every deal works as quickly as you wish it would, but if you stay with it, you'll succeed, and the same is true in legislating," Cramer said.

Sen. Al Franken. D-Minn.

Grade: Not provided

"Although I don't like prescribing letter grades to something as serious as governing our country, I do believe that President Trump's first 100 days have been by and large ineffective," Franken said in an emailed statement. "While I've pushed back against the President several times so far ... I'm glad to see the President crack down on job-destroying trade cheats—like foreign steel and lumber producers who dump their subsidized goods into our country, which is a problem I've fought to address for a long time."

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.

Grade: Not provided

"I believe the Administration should have had ... more with policies that bring people together—like making strong infrastructure investments and tackling the high costs of prescription drugs," Klobuchar said in an emailed statement. "And while I have been encouraged by the Administration's efforts to combat the opioid epidemic and support farmers by cutting red tape, I have real concerns about other actions, like a budget proposal that would cut the Department of Agriculture by 21 percent and slash heating assistance. We need to get back on track and focus on what unites us, not what divides us."

The staff of Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., did not return a request for comment.

Sam Easter

Sam Easter is a City Government reporter for the Grand Forks Herald. You can reach him with story tips, comments and ideas at 701-330-3441.

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