Donald Trump roared into Bangor Wednesday afternoon into the collective embrace of about 5,000 loyal supporters at the Cross Center. The audience applauded the presumptive Republican nominee’s promises of great trade deals, expanded job opportunities and a no-exceptions immigration policy that he says will make America safe.
All of the campaign hoopla played well in the heart of Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, where large numbers of conservative voters could hand Trump one Electoral College vote if he carries the region in November.
Some of Trump’s fans endured sporadic downpours for a little more than two hours just to show their support for the billionaire businessman. Patty Duran of Brewer echoed the opinions of several others in the long line outside the Cross Center who patiently waited for Trump to arrive.
“Well he’s not a politician and he doesn’t act like one and that’s for sure, and I’m sick and tired of the traditional politicians,” she said. “They lie cheat and steal and they don’t tell the truth, and I believe he does.”
Trump delivered for Duran and thousands of others by vowing to build a wall along the Mexican border to stem the flow of illegal immigration and to get tough with China over the manipulation of its currency and continued unfair trade policies. But what the crowd really liked was Trump’s absolute disdain for progressives and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
“They totally control Hillary Clinton and then I watch her on television about ISIS and we’re gonna this and we’re gonna that, we’re gonna this, I’ve been watching her for so many years,” he said. “She has been in that position for so long in one way or another. She hasn’t done anything about what’s going on. ISIS was formed during her tenure.”
Trump also lashed out at trade pacts such as North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership as bad deals that negotiated thousands of American jobs away. Trump says that’s all over once he’s elected to the White House.
“We are going to make the greatest trade deals in the history of our country and maybe beyond that,” he said. “We are going to go from the stupid people who don’t know what’s happening to people who are thriving again. We’re going to bring our jobs, we’re going to bring back our wealth, we’re going to bring back our money, we’re going to bring back our pride, we’re going to make America great again.”
Not everyone at the rally was supportive. About a dozen protesters were ushered out by Trump’s security and Bangor police after they attempted to disrupt the event. That prompted a typical Trump directive from the podium.
“Get ‘em outta here folks,” he said.
Before the event, Democrats staged a protest outside. Peggy Schaffer, vice chair of the Maine Democratic Party, said Trump’s policies were a bad fit for Maine — especially his economic proposals.
“He wants to give tax breaks to the top 1 percent, and that really doesn’t work for Mainers,” Schaffer said. “I think we’re here to give the message that his message is not one that works for the Maine economy.”
Most election watchers agree that Trump’s Bangor trip was an appeal to 2nd Congressional District voters who tend to be a little older and more conservative than their counterparts in southern Maine.
Maine is one of two states that can split half of its four electoral votes if different candidates win in different congressional districts. That point was not lost on Boston radio talk show host Howie Carr, who also appeared at the event.
“This is the biggest Congressional District east of the Mississippi River and as you guys know, if Donald J. Trump carries this district — he will, won’t he?” Carr said.
Trump says he’s starting to consider Maine as a backup plan if Americans don’t elect him in November.
“If things don’t work out for me, I may just come on up here and just say the hell with it, OK?” Trump said. “It could definitely happen, when you have a big chunk of real estate up here. Nobody knows. Nobody realizes it.”
Trump was introduced by Gov. Paul LePage who said the candidate would be the champion of all Mainers.