Donald Trump’s campaign rolls into Portland on Thursday during a tumultuous time for the Republican presidential candidate, who appears increasingly at odds with leaders of the party that formally nominated him about two weeks ago.

Thursday’s rally is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. at Merrill Auditorium. Doors open at noon.

It will be the third time this year that the New York businessman has campaigned in Maine, which hasn’t favored a Republican presidential candidate since George H.W. Bush in 1988, and with just four electoral votes doesn’t figure prominently in Electoral College math.

But Maine is one of only two states that split their electoral votes by congressional district, so it’s possible that Trump is trying to pick off the one vote assigned to the more conservative 2nd District. And Maine’s media market extends into New Hampshire, another state that Trump hopes to take, so that might be part of the state’s appeal as a campaign stop.

Trump first appeared at the Westin Harborview hotel in Portland in March, just ahead of the statewide caucuses, and returned to Bangor in June for a rally at the Cross Insurance Center.

His Portland rally comes at a tough time for his campaign. Although his candidacy has been nontraditional and controversial from the beginning, he increasingly has come under fire for feuding with the parents of a Muslim-American soldier who was killed in action in 2004.


Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who has yet to endorse Trump but has not fully disavowed him, was among the Republicans who expressed frustration over Trump’s latest controversy.

“It is inconceivable to me that anyone in this country, much less a presidential candidate, would denigrate the service of an individual who gave his life for our country and would criticize that person’s parents,” Collins told MPBN this week.

As members of his own party have stepped up their criticism, Trump has dug in further. He hinted that he may not support some of them, including Sen. John McCain and House Speaker Paul Ryan, in their primary races, and has even complimented Ryan’s opponent.

By Wednesday, several national media outlets were reporting that the Trump campaign was in disarray and that high-profile Republicans, including Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, are fed up with a candidate who they think can’t control himself. Some have even speculated that Trump may drop out of the race. But those aren’t the first allegations that Trump’s camp is in trouble, and so far he has weathered many gaffes and controversies.


Wednesday afternoon, as media outlets speculated on whether Trump would continue to punish Republicans who didn’t fall in line behind him, Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, appeared to break from the candidate by endorsing Ryan.


Whether Trump addresses any of the current controversies at his event Thursday is unclear, but – as has been the case with most places he visits – the candidate will be greeted by various protesters in Portland.

A group made up mostly of local lawyers, law professors and others with ties to the legal community is planning to protest Thursday in Monument Square ahead of the rally and is encouraging others to join them.

The group, the Ad Hoc Committee to Say NO to Donald Trump, took out a half-page ad in the Portland Press Herald on Wednesday asking people to “Stand up for Maine values.”

“Join us and bear silent witness that Donald Trump’s values are not the values of the people of Maine,” the ad reads. “Donald Trump’s careless comments reflect his dishonesty, his lack of self-control and good judgment, his mean-spiritedness, his ignorance of world affairs, his lack of respect for women and minority groups, and his lack of common decency.”

David Cluchey, a retired University of Maine Law School professor, is one of the organizers of the group, which he said came together quickly over the weekend after Trump’s announced appearance in Portland and his escalating feud with the Khans.

Cluchey said he hasn’t been politically active since the 1960s.


“Mr. Trump has gotten my attention because of his outrageousness and his obvious disqualifications,” he said. “I continue to be appalled.”

The Maine People’s Alliance, a grassroots organization that promotes liberal public policies, also has planned an “Anti-Trump Peaceful Protest,” for noon at City Hall plaza, according to its Facebook page.

City officials said Myrtle Street, which provides access to Merrill Auditorium, will be closed to traffic and pedestrians virtually all day Thursday. The streets surrounding the auditorium, including Pearl, Chestnut and portions of Congress and Cumberland streets, will have on-street parking bans.

Collins is visiting family out of state and will not be at Thursday’s event. Neither will Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District, who has been vague whenever he’s been asked about his support of Trump.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage, who initially supported New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for president but has since gone all-in for Trump, has said he will be at the rally.

During a radio appearance Tuesday, LePage said he’ll give Trump a piece of advice: “Ignore the media.” Trump and LePage share a mutual disdain for reporters and media coverage.



While visits by presidential candidates to Maine are not unprecedented, Trump’s three visits so far this year are unusual. His opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, hosted a private fundraiser in Maine last fall, but has not spent any time in the state since.

Trump, in an interview Tuesday with Washington Post reporter Philip Rucker, was asked about his electoral strategy for the November election. In most recent elections, the difference has come down to a handful of swing states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida.

Trump mentioned those three states, but then said he believes he’s “going to do great in states that some people aren’t even thinking about.”

“Because I’m different than Republican candidates, than other Republican candidates,” he said. “I’ve got states that we can win that other Republican candidates wouldn’t even stop over for dinner.”

“Like what? Like Maine?” Rucker asked.

“Well, I’d rather not say,” Trump replied. “Because why should I highlight it?”


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