Good morning from Augusta, where lovers of politics are focused on today’s visit to Bangor by Donald Trump.
What kind of reception Trump will receive in the Queen City remains to be seen, but the GOP is doing what it can to be hospitable. Gov. Paul LePage has postponed his planned town hall meeting in Greenville this evening so he can be at Trump’s rally “with bells on,” as he told radio hosts on Tuesday. The governor’s visit to the Moosehead region will be rescheduled.
The conservative Maine Heritage Policy Center had planned the unveiling of a new report about direct primary care in Maine at midday today but led a press release on Tuesday with “We’ve Been Trumped.” The rollout will be rescheduled.
The Maine Republican Party voiced enthusiasm for the visit and the general election campaign to come, in which Trump vies to have Maine vote red in a presidential after several cycles of backing the Democrat in the race. Party Chairman Rick Bennett has already sent his regrets and won’t be at the rally because of a speaking engagement.
One question that has been lingering ever since Trump became the presumptive nominee is where 2nd Congressional District Rep. Bruce Poliquin stands and whether he’ll be at today’s rally.
UPDATE: On Wednesday morning, his staff said he would be at a meeting in Lewiston and unable to attend the Bangor rally.
The Maine Democratic Party will be there and has scheduled a news conference outside the Cross Insurance Center at 1 p.m. According to a press release, the rally will be led by party Vice Chairwoman Peggy Schaffer, Attorney General Janet Mills and legislators from the Bangor area.
Trump will be well-fed when he arrives and presumably better funded than he is right now. At noon, he’s hosting a $2,700-a-seat fundraising luncheon at the Langham Hotel in Boston. Every penny helps. The Trump campaign reported just $1.3 million in cash on hand at the beginning of June. That’s a lot of greenbacks compared to what’s in my bank account (and probably yours) but presumptive Democratic Nominee Hillary Clinton reported $42 million in the bank and has been spending it liberally (see what I did there?) in battleground states.
What will Trump discuss this afternoon to a roomful of Mainers? Who knows, but it’s a pretty safe bet that history won’t repeat itself in this regard. During a visit to Portland in March, Trump’s rambling speech centered on a fiery condemnation of former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who had just launched attacks against Trump. Trump described Romney as a “choke artist” and said Romney would have “dropped to his knees” for a Trump endorsement in 2012 if Trump had asked for it.
No, these days Trump is trying to look more presidential and focus on policy. On Tuesday in Pittsburgh, according to the New York Times, Trump visited a recycling plant to discuss how he’s overhaul trade pacts with China. (I learned a new word in that New York Times report. “Shibboleth” basically means long-standing but outmoded beliefs of a particular group of people. Thank you NYT. I’ll begin working that word into my coverage immediately, providing I can find some outmoded beliefs.)
Here’s another nugget for you: The Washington Post reported this morning that a move is afoot to make sure delegates to the Republican National Convention vote the way they’re supposed to, based on the results of their states’ primaries and caucuses. The Trump campaign has formed a five-member committee focused on stopping efforts to unbind delegates. Why should you care about this? RNC committeeman Alex Willette of Maine, a former legislator, is on the committee.
I know, I know. You’re thirsty for more about Trump’s visit. You’re STARVING for a taco bowl. Check out the reading list below for more stage-setters and watch for bounteous and dilatable coverage coming your way today from the Bangor Daily News. (I tried to teach the New York Times a couple new words right there but I doubt they’re impressed.) The Bangor Daily News all-day live blog is already humming; check it out.
Are you sick of reading about Trump’s visit already? Don’t worry, it’s not all about him today, which brings us to our next item. — Christopher Cousins
Maine Ethics Commission mulling ‘house party exemption’
In May accusations of improper campaign finance practices in a Portland-area Democratic primary for the Maine Senate were as thick as black flies. The Maine Ethics Commission’s deliberations revealed what is seen by some as a loophole in election law: the house party exemption. That nugget of statute allows campaign volunteers to spent up to $250 per election for “invitations, food and beverages” for “campaign-related activities.”
The commission, which convened today at 9 a.m. in Augusta (there will still be plenty of time for commissioner to attend the Trump rally if they make their deliberations speedy), will take a closer look at the house party exemption today and consider re-opening an investigation into a prior complaint against Democratic Rep. Ben Chipman, who won the Democratic nomination in a three-way race.
Also on the commission’s agenda is a request to investigate the Horseracing Jobs Fairness Ballot Question Committee, which collected signatures in a failed attempt to permit a casino in York County. The complaint alleges that the committee improperly disclosed expenditures. Yup, the BDN is covering that, too. — Christopher Cousins
- Here’s one for the Hillary Clinton lovers: Data and polling guru Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com has crunched his numbers and predicts that Clinton has a 79 percent chance of winning the presidency. Silver proved his methods are rock solid by predicting every state’s vote accurately in the past two presidential elections, but there are cracks in his armor. In May, he had to explain why he was so wrong about Trump’s rise in popularity. That’s a tough shibboleth you’re in, Nate.
- Riverview watchdog wary of LePage hiring freeze — Christopher Cousins, BDN
- On eve of Donald Trump rally, Bangor officials urge people to ‘respect each other’ — Emily Burnham and Nick McCrea, BDN
- Donald Trump and Maine: A primer — BDN staff
- Trump vows to reopen, or scrap, NAFTA pact with Canada and Mexico — Emily Stephenson and Amanda Becker, Reuters
- Panel’s report reignites debate over Clinton and Benghazi — James Oliphant and David Morgan, Reuters
Be grateful if you don’t have an editor
Most every writer will tell you he or she has a few words or phrases with which they struggle. This morning, my editor had to remind me for probably the 100th time that fundraising is one word, not two. I’m clearly still recovering from a different editor I had years ago who was in the “fund raising” camp.
OK, I get it. But then came this shot across my bow: Live blog is actually THREE words. Really?
“It is short for live web log but we treat it as two words,” wrote my smartypants editor, who ignored my question about whether “smartypants” or “smarty pants” is correct.
I don’t know how he sleeps at night. — Christopher Cousins
Editor’s note: Is “black flies” one word or two? Discuss in comments.