HOLDEN, Maine — A Wednesday visit to Maine by Donald Trump Jr. was mostly a base-rallying effort aiming to draw distinctions between his family and that of former Vice President Joe Biden as he stumped for a congressional candidate in the swing 2nd Congressional District.
He was the second son of President Donald Trump to appear in Maine in the last week as the state enjoys a relatively large role in the race between the elder Trump and Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee. The president said while visiting Maine in June that he aims to win the whole state in 2020, though Biden has held wide leads in recent statewide polls.
While Eric Trump pointed to a recently finalized subsidy program for Maine lobstermen and other fishermen hit by Chinese tariffs in a trade war with the Trump administration when he visited southern Maine last week, Trump Jr. focused more on rousing the ire of a mostly maskless crowd of perhaps 500 people at an outdoor rally at Maine Military Supply.
He compared his work history to that of Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son who has been criticized for his past paid role on the board of a Ukrainian gas company, lambasting Democrats and questioning the elder Biden’s competency.
The most local part of his speech included plugs for former state Rep. Dale Crafts, a Republican challenging Democrat U.S. Rep. Jared Golden for the 2nd Congressional District, and former Gov. Paul LePage, who introduced them. Trump Jr. hosted a $100-per-plate fundraiser for Crafts at Sea Dog Brewing Company in downtown Bangor after the event.
Trump Jr. characterized Crafts and LePage — who may run against Gov. Janet Mills in 2022 — as strong candidates who would stand up to Democrats, favorably comparing them to some Republicans who “talk right to a crowd” and “hit all the conservative bullet points.”
Clockwise from left: The sun sets as Donald Trump Jr. talks to supporters outside Maine Military Supply in Holden on Sept. 23; a man records Trump Jr.; Trump Jr. speaks; a woman makes a heart with her hands. Credit: Natalie Williams / BDN
“And then every time they get down to D.C., they roll over each and every time,” he said.
Crafts is trailing Golden in the polls and fundraising in a race that has been quiet so far. President Trump won the 2nd District by 10 points in 2016 to win one electoral vote, but polls this year have shown him nearly tied with Biden in the more conservative part of Maine.
Trump Jr. did not mention U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican in a targeted 2020 re-election campaign with House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport. Collins broke with her party on Tuesday to oppose confirming a new Supreme Court justice before the Nov. 3 election. The president has criticized her for her reluctance to do so.
Surrogates of both presidential candidates have been visiting the region this week, with Eric Trump making stops in Maine and New Hampshire last week and Vice President Mike Pence making a stop in New Hampshire this week. Donald Trump Jr. will stop on the other side of the Maine border in North Conway, New Hampshire on Thursday.
Jill Biden, the Democratic nominee’s wife, is expected to appear in Maine on Friday, although the Biden campaign has not yet said exactly where she will visit.