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Trump plans Maine visit despite governor's security warning

Justin Sink, Jennifer Jacobs and David Welch, Bloomberg News on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump plans to visit Maine on Friday to tour a nasal swab manufacturing plant, a White House official said, even as the state's governor directly warned that his trip prompted security concerns amid protests that have gripped the nation.

"I'm very concerned that your presence may cause security problems for our state," Maine Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, told the president on a conference call with state leaders Monday. Bloomberg News obtained audio of the call.

Trump responded that he would look into her concerns but that he anticipated "a tremendous crowd of people showing up" and believed "most of them are very favorable, they like their president."

Later in the call, Trump indicated that Mills' reluctance to host him may persuade him to push forward with the visit.

"She tried to talk me out of it. Now I think she probably talked me into it," Trump said. "She just doesn't understand me very well. But that's OK."

The concern expressed by the Maine governor comes after three nights of violent protests around the country and near the White House after the arrest and death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Four police officers were fired and one, Derek Chauvin, was arrested and charged with murder over Floyd's treatment. Chauvin was seen on video kneeling on Floyd's neck during an arrest as Floyd cried out in agony.

Trump has said that he found the video disturbing, but in recent days has escalated his calls for law enforcement to more aggressively confront demonstrators breaking the law. On the call, the president told governors they "have to dominate" and said of the movement that "if you don't put it down, it'll get worse and worse."

On Friday, Trump is expected to visit the Puritan Medical Products facility in Guilford, Maine, after using the Defense Production Act to compel the company to ramp up production of nasal swabs for coronavirus tests during the height of the pandemic.

 

The trip is an opportunity for Trump to tout an improvement in coronavirus test availability as he seeks to turn around public opinion, which polls show has soured on his handling of the pandemic, and visit an area that could prove key in his reelection bid.

Maine, unlike most U.S. states, awards separate electoral votes for each of its congressional districts, a provision that allowed the president to pick up a vote from the more rural 2nd District despite losing the state overall to Hillary Clinton. The Puritan facility is located in that 2nd Congressional District, which could prove pivotal if Democratic challenger and former Vice President Joe Biden locks the president in a close race.

Trump's trip to Maine wouldn't be the first time since the pandemic began that he traveled against the wishes of local leaders. On Memorial Day, Trump went to an event at Fort McHenry in Baltimore even though the city's mayor said the nonessential travel set a bad example for citizens of the city who had been asked to abide by a quarantine order.

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