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President Trump brings Bob Kroll on stage

The "Cops for Trump" T-shirts were a popular item at Thursday's rally. So much so, Trump thanked the man who helped their surge in sales.

MINNEAPOLIS — President Donald Trump invited Lt. Bob Kroll, the head of the Minneapolis police union, to the stage Thursday night.

The president said Kroll was instrumental in helping his presidential campaign and the popularity of the "Cops for Trump" shirts.

The $20 red shirts were already selling fast earlier in the week but then Tuesday morning, Kroll appeared on Fox News talking about what prompted the shirts. A new policy says off-duty Minneapolis police officers cannot wear their uniforms while they're endorsing a political party, candidate or campaign. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said the policy was in the works long before President Trump's planned visit this week. 

"The Minneapolis Police Department is neither a Republican nor a Democrat entity. It is non-ideological nor is it partisan. It is a neutral entity that is charged with ensuring the public safety of every single resident in the city of Minneapolis," Frey said, during a press conference Tuesday afternoon. 

Kroll and others have accused Frey of being politically motivated because officers have appeared as backdrops in events held in the past by Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. But KARE 11 political reporter, John Croman, pointed out that those events weren't political campaign rallies. 

The president tweeted several times about the shirts after Kroll's TV appearance, mentioning, "Actually, I LOVE the Cops for Trump shirts. Want to bring some home. I am with you 100%!!!!"

"I was on the phone with his son, Eric, earlier today. I've been talking with staff throughout the week. We've got VIP tickets and I'm speaking at the pre-program. So yeah, we've made arrangements," Kroll said. 

Kroll did not have an exact percentage but said a "small portion" of T-shirt sales will go toward the union's charities. 

By noon Tuesday they had sold 800 shirts and were waiting for 500 more to be delivered later in the day. They also had ordered another 1,500. Kroll said right now they're giving priority to those attending the rally. 

"We want as many red shirts down there for the president at the rally on Thursday as we can have," he said. 

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