A top Maine Republican issued a challenge to Gov. Paul LePage Tuesday, calling on him to make an appearance at the party’s national convention in Cleveland.

“I think it would be very unfortunate if he didn’t show up,” said Sen. Garrett Mason of Lisbon, who is also the majority leader in the Maine Senate. “He wanted a spot and he ought to be here.”

LePage was elected as a delegate during the Republican state convention in April after he made a forceful case that as a Donald Trump supporter and governor he should be part of the delegation.

But twice in July LePage told audiences he wasn’t needed at the national convention and would stay at home and focus on his work in Maine.

Mason did praise LePage for moving Maine forward by reforming welfare, cutting taxes and creating jobs. And though he wishes both Trump and LePage would “tone down the rhetoric a bit,” he believes the party is starting to unite around Trump.

“But you know you can have somebody who talks pretty or you can have somebody who gets the job down and I think both Paul LePage and Donald Trump are both men who get the job done,” Mason said.

Mason said highlights from the first day of the convention Monday included speeches from former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Gold Star mother of a Marine who was killed in the Benghazi attacks in Libya – a rallying cry for Republicans who blame the incident on Trump’s Democratic rival, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – and Trump’s wife, Melania Trump.

Mason said the media focus on charges that parts of Melania Trump’s speech had been plagiarized from a speech given by current first lady Michelle Obama were being overblown and the context of the speech was being overlooked.

“This is a woman who grew up in a communist country, made something of herself through fashion and modeling, and went on and could be the next first lady of the United States,” Mason said. “That right there is the promise of America, that is what this country is all about.

“If you work hard enough and you come to America you can do whatever and be whoever you want to be.”

Despite a variety of disagreements among themselves and other Republicans at the convention, Maine’s delegates were largely enjoying their time in Cleveland.

Rep. Ellie Espling of New Gloucester, one of Maine’s 23 delegates to the convention, does not believe the party has found unity around Trump, but wasn’t sure that matters much in the end. “I don’t know if it’s necessary,” Espling said. “Part of what makes Republicans so good, in my opinion, is we do allow for independent thought and we like that people are so mindful of what they want and not just accepting what the higher-ups are telling them to do.”

She expected delegates to continue to demand roll-call floor votes, a process that could consume hours if allowed by the convention’s officers. All that independent thought, Espling added, does tend to eat up time.

“It can make things a little long – and messy – but I think conventions should be a little messy because you are trying to morph the very best of grassroots organic activism with the establishment and the entire political system,” she said. “It all sort of clashes together in a convention.”

She said Trump had inspired some people to join the party, and that it was likely most die-hard Republicans would vote for him over the Democratic nominee.

“But I don’t know that he’s inspired many already within the party to work for him yet,” Espling said. “Maybe that will happen, but we aren’t feeling it yet.”

Espling, who like most Maine Republicans supported the unsuccessful campaign of Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, said Maine delegates were having a good time in Cleveland meeting old friends and making new ones.

“If you are a political geek like some of us are and you are so into this and you’re into politics in general, but then you’re a Republican and you are here, well, this is just super awesome for us, it’s just a cool experience but not everyone is wired that way,” Espling said. “They might not think it’s cool to be here, but we do.”


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