How Trump tailored his message to Maine

Good morning from Portland, where I’ve had the night to reflect on Maine’s third day this year of Donald Trump, who was in our largest city for a Thursday rally.

The rally’s big story was the link drawn by the Republican presidential nominee between Maine’s community of Somali immigrants and acts of crime by immigrants, including refugees admitted from “among the most dangerous places in the world,” which “has to stop.”

Those remarks were condemned by members of Portland’s community of African immigrants, and Somalis will hold a City Hall press conference at 2:30 p.m. today to respond more formally. It’s not the first time that Maine’s Somali community has been politicized.

In the Lewiston area, thousands of Somalis have come to the area since 2000. Then-Mayor Larry Raymond wrote a letter in 2002 discouraging further immigration to the city, saying it was straining municipal coffers.

Ten years later, Mayor Robert Macdonald told Somalis to “leave your culture at the door” in a BBC interview. Those comments followed Macdonald into a tough 2015 mayoral race against progressive activist Ben Chin.

The mayor won his third term in a runoff dominated by older voters who backed him, with one telling the Bangor Daily News that he was “insulted” that African immigrants have been compared to his French-Canadian ancestors because they didn’t have welfare and Lewistonians are “tired of the freeloaders.”

Demographics explain much of Trump’s push in Maine, the nation’s oldest and whitest state. Data from the Pew Research Center have him trailing Mitt Romney, his party’s 2012 nominee, widely among women. But he’s beating Romney among men over age 50 and those who have only completed some college or less.

Trump’s VIP section in Portland on Thursday was heavily made up of white men, and immigration wasn’t the only Maine-centric issue that he preached on.

He’ll have more work to do to win Maine’s four electoral votes. But for the first time in a while, a Republican is actually trying. — Michael Shepherd

Quick hits

  • There’s a cottage Internet industry of inflating impressions of Trump’s crowd sizes. A site called “Truthfeed” has a picture that it says is of the crowd at the Portland rally, saying “do not allow the dishonest media to discourage you.” But it’s not of Merrill Auditorium. Still, Portland spokeswoman Jessica Grondin said it was a capacity crowd with 1,600 seats filled, plus 200 media members. Trump has encouraged this phenomenon. At a rally in a Portland hotel in March, he said “thousands” were waiting to get in. They weren’t.
  • Solar advocates will roll out an updated report on solar power on Friday. It will show “that Mainers with solar panels will save all Maine customers millions of dollars during this time of peak energy demand,” according to the Natural Resources Council of Maine, which has been fighting LePage on solar policy. — Michael Shepherd

Reading list

Best of Maine’s Craigslist

  • Lust in a time of Trump: A man is looking to connect with a woman who sat near him and his brother at Trump’s rally, saying “I couldnt help but notice you when you arrived and honestly found it hard not to check you out.” He clearly is focused more on women than taking the country back. Sad!
  • Why can’t we be friends? A “old fart” striking a muscular pose is looking for a woman to take to the Smashmouth show on Saturday at the Maine Lobster Festival in Rockland. Here’s your soundtrack.
  • The lady knows what she wants: A woman in Turner wants a man to take her out to dinner, where she “would like to order a alcoholic drink…a non meat entrée…and possibly dessert…but I usually do not have room in the tum tum for dessert.” She is 56 years old. She says “tum tum.” — Michael Shepherd
Michael Shepherd

About Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after covering state, federal and local issues for the Kennebec Journal for three years. He's a Hallowell native who now lives in Gardiner. He graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service.