Trump Delivers Remarks at Puritan Medical Products Facility in Maine

Date: 2020-06-05 20:48:31

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(June 5) Watch live as President Donald Trump delivers remarks at the Puritan Medical Products facility, which is one of the two largest worldwide manufacturers of medical swabs, in Guilford, Maine,

President Donald Trump is forging ahead with a trip to Maine on Friday, defying a direct plea from the state’s Democratic governor to stay home and concerns from Republicans his visit could hurt Senator Susan Collins’ re-election bid.

Trump’s visit is designed to tout his administration’s efforts to bolster coronavirus testing, as he seeks to reverse public opinion of his handling of the pandemic. It’s also a chance for the president to set foot in a key area for his re-election as his response to nationwide protests against police brutality continues to draw widespread criticism.

Yet the decision to visit the state puzzled some Republicans, who point out that Collins has sought to keep her distance from Trump as she faces an uphill struggle for a fifth term — a crucial race for the party to keep its narrow Senate majority. Colin Reed, a GOP strategist, said Collins would have to “outrun” Trump in Maine if she hopes to win again, and a presidential visit isn’t something her campaign would request.

“If he goes to these blue, purple and battleground states, it’s going to create headaches for the Republican incumbents running for re-election who not only have to deal with the shaky national tide, but then have to deal with his presence in the state and everything that goes with it,” Reed said.

Collins will work in Washington on Friday rather than join Trump in her home state, according to her spokeswoman, Annie Clark.

Collins has yet to announce whether she will support Trump for re-election. And the Senate race in Maine — where Trump is expected to lose the popular vote — is considered a toss-up by the non-partisan Cook Political Report.

The senator said this week it was “painful to watch” as federal officers forcibly cleared protesters from Lafayette Square near the White House so Trump could pose with a Bible in front of St. John’s, a historic Episcopal Church.

“It is at times like this that a president needs to speak to the nation, to pledge to right wrongs, and to calm inflamed passions. I hope that the president will advance that effort wherever he goes, including on his visit to Maine,” Collins said in a statement on Thursday.

One of the items on her agenda while Trump is in her state will be a joint Zoom fundraiser at 1:30 p.m. with the Maine Republican Party, which drew an attack from the campaign of her leading Democratic opponent, Maine’s House Speaker Sara Gideon.

“When Senator Collins says she’s ‘working,’ she must mean she’s working to separate herself from Donald Trump,” said Gideon spokeswoman Maeve Coyle. But she said Collins’ fundraiser would help Trump’s re-election effort by sending money to the state GOP, which supports him. “Senator Collins has made it very clear that she stands with Donald Trump.”

Collins’ campaign spokesman Kevin Kelley brushed off the attack, attacking Gideon for ducking a televised Democratic primary debate and charging she adjourned the state Legislature months ago to go fund-raise.

For Trump and his allies, however, his first visit to the state as president could benefit his sputtering re-election effort.

Unlike most U.S. states, Maine awards electoral votes separately for each congressional district. That allowed Trump to win an electoral vote in 2016 from the state’s rural Second District even though he lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton. It was the first time a Republican presidential nominee picked up an electoral vote in the state since 1988, and could prove decisive in November if Trump becomes locked in a close race with the likely Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden.

Trump is scheduled to tour a Puritan Medical Products Inc. facility in Guilford, Maine, located in the Second District. The company is one of two that manufactures virus testing swabs.

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