LEWISTON, Maine — During a campaign swing through the area Tuesday, Donald Trump’s eldest son blasted Republican politicians who refuse to back his father.
Republican office-holders who don’t support their party’s presidential candidate — including U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin — are “just protecting themselves and the little environment they’ve created” to consolidate power and wealth for an elite political class that his father plans to disrupt, Donald Trump Jr. said.
During a campaign appearance in Auburn, Trump Jr. said that Republicans who fail to endorse their party’s nominee may talk a good game, but when they’re on the floor of the Congress “they fold.”
Trump Jr., a 38-year-old executive in his father’s real estate business, talked to enthusiastic crowds at Howell’s Indoor Range and Gun Shop in Gray before heading on to the party headquarters in Auburn and a lunchtime stop at Simones’ Hot Dog Stand in Lewiston.
Gov. Paul LePage joined Trump Jr. at the hot dog stand but, determined to keep to his diet, didn’t eat anything at the eatery he’s been going to for 62 years, when “they had a little shack” down the street with just four stools.
Trump Jr., though, gobbled one down. It lacked the mustard he said he’s used to in New York, but he pronounced it “an excellent hot dog” anyway.
Jim Simone, the Chestnut Street restaurant’s owner, said his business has “always attracted the political crowd” from both sides of the aisle who like “to test the water” by talking to customers.
LePage, a prominent backer of Donald Trump, told the White House hopeful’s son that his father “is the right person” to bring the change America needs.
“Losing is not an option,” LePage said.
Trump’s national field coordinator, Matt Mowers, said Republicans have a good shot at winning the electoral vote at stake in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, where the race is tight.
Poliquin, a first-term Republican incumbent, has repeatedly declined to say whether he supports Trump, a fact his opponent, Democrat Emily Cain, has used in campaign fusillades against Poliquin.
Maine Democratic Party Chairman called Donald Trump Jr.’s visit a distraction from allegations that his father “has glorified sexual violence and repeatedly demeaned women.”
Polls across the country have shown dwindling support for Donald Trump since the release of taped, crude comments made by the candidate in 2005 about molesting women.
Both Donald Trump Jr. and LePage said, however, they are skeptical about the conventional wisdom that Republicans trail badly in the presidential race.
Trump Jr. said he thinks “there’s something really going on here” that isn’t getting picked up by the media or the pollsters. LePage said the polls “are just not right.”
“There’s a hidden movement,” Trump Jr. said, consisting in large part of people who have never voted before. He said regular people recognize the “common sense” behind his father’s words.
Michael Chartier of Lewiston went straight from his third-shift job at Bath Iron Works to the gun shop in Gray to hear from Trump.
“We need someone who’s strong and confident on world issues,” Chartier, an Iraq war veteran, said. He said Donald Trump will “clean up Washington,” create jobs and “shine a light on the corruption” that permeates Washington.
Betty McLean of West Bath told LePage he’s “doing a great job” by cracking down on welfare abuse and speaking his mind.
She said she’s pushing for Trump, too, because the country needs him. She said she is “just tired” of the way things are going and wants change.
“I think he can do it,” McLean said.
Donald Trump Jr. said people everywhere are “fed up with the lies and false promises” they hear from politicians.
“The one guy who’s actually going to be able to deliver is my father,” he said.
Adam Copp, the Gray business’ owner, said he’s thrilled Trump Jr. stopped by “the greatest gun shop in Maine.”
Trump Jr., a hunter, said he would love to take advantage of the gun range to shoot a little but worried the media would find a way to twist it against the campaign, so he refrained.
He said he wanted the media to focus instead on Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton’s failings.
Calling her “the most elite of the elites,” Trump Jr. said his father is running for selfless reasons “and does not owe anyone anything.”
“That’s the difference between Hillary and Donald,” LePage said. “She takes the money. He earns it.”
The governor said Clinton has “such a criminal enterprise system that she’s been more successful than” former Mafia boss John Gotti. Gotti, he said, “didn’t pay to play” as Clinton does.
The Maine visit by Trump Jr. is the second in recent weeks by a Trump son. His brother, Eric Trump, came to the 2nd District in early October.
“I’m the better-looking brother — smarter, more athletic and better in every way,” Donald Trump Jr. said with a grin.
He said he’s been on the campaign trail for his father for months.
“I go where I’m told, and I talk,” he said.