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Politics

Trump Makes A Spur-Of-The-Moment Visit To Maine, Drawing Hundreds Of Supporters To Bangor Area

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Nick Woodward
/
Maine Public
Spectators look on as Air Force One departs Bangor International Airport on Sunday.

With little more than a week left before the election, President Donald Trump spent Sunday campaigning in New England — including a surprise visit to the Pine Tree State. And Maine Democrats were quick to respond.

A few hundred people turned out to support President Trump as he made an unscheduled stop in Bangor and visited a farm in nearby Levant.

U.S. Senate Candidate Sara Gideon, Maine Gov. Janet Mills and Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey pulled together a hasty counterrally in Bangor Sunday afternoon when the pit stop suddenly appeared on the president’s schedule.

Mills said she gave the president “the benefit of the doubt” 3 1/2 years ago, but said he no longer deserves that consideration and called his visit a “last gasp stop.”

“He’s finally discovered the State of Maine. He’s trying to rediscover the 2nd Congressional District. Yeah, I don’t believe he’s been here except for a quick stop to Puritan Medical back in June. I don’t think he’s been here for four years. But we know where we stand in the 2nd Congressional District,” she said.

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Credit Nick Woodward / Maine Public
Gov. Janet Mills speaks at a counterrally on Sunday, with U.S. Senate candidate Sara Gideon looking on.

President Trump won in the 2nd District in 2016, earning one of Maine’s electoral votes.

“To me I think it shows a little bit of desperation. I mean we have one electoral college vote here,” said Mary Smith of Plymouth, who came to the event to support Sara Gideon’s campaign for Senate against incumbent Republican Susan Collins but stayed to wave a Biden sign as Trump’s motorcade passed down Union Street.

Smith said she’s appalled by the president’s attempts to dismantle affordable health care, and by his lack of leadership during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t think he really cares much about the Maine people and I think he’s here just to try and get that one vote,” she said.

“I thought it was important that we came out and supported people that were standing up to the president,” said Jeremiah Rancourt of Hermon.

He said while the counterprotest featured masks and social distancing, he’s upset over what he has seen at recent pro-Trump rallies.

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Credit Nick Woodward / Maine Public
Jeremiah Rancourt of Hermon was among those at a counterrally in Bangor on Sunday.

“The fact that he’s going around and doing all these events — I think it’s awful during the pandemic,” Rancourt said, “these super spreader events. And it’s scary that it’s coming to our part of the state and potentially spreading this virus.”

Frey, meanwhile, spoke in opposition to the president’s policies.

“There is so much concern in the fact that our president is incapable of calling out white supremacy, is incapable of learning about what Qanon really stands for,” he said.

Frey said he’s had to sue the president and his administration several times already to protect the interests of citizens.

“We deserve so much better — law enforcement deserves so much better — having a president who knows how to call out those things that are insidious to our public internal security,” he said.

But across town, at Bangor International Airport, Trump supporters were waving flags and standing on jacked-up pickup trucks to try to catch a glimpse of the president through the chain-link fence as he departed.

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Credit Nick Woodward / Maine Public
Spectators catch a glimpse of Air Force One as it departed Bangor International airport on Sunday.

Rebecca Caswell of Orono said she believes President Trump came because he loves the state — and the state loves him.

“For a turnout as big as he got today I think it’s pretty amazing and I think it speaks volumes to the people of Maine,” she said. “Support him. Because he supports us.”

And she said she has no complaints with his handling of coronavirus.

The visit came on the heels of a scheduled rally earlier in the day in New Hampshire.