Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump made his third appearance in Maine today when he held a rally in Portland, using his speech to hit a hot-button issue in Maine: the resettlement of Somali refugees.
Trump touched on many familiar topics: immigration, terrorism and how guns could have thwarted recent terrorist attacks. He also doubled down on his suggestion that refugees from war-torn Muslim countries cannot be vetted, and said they are threat to the country.
“There is no way of vetting them. This could be the great Trojan Horse of all time,” Trump said.
And then Trump dwelled on an issue that’s close to home for Mainers: Somali refugees.
“We’ve just seen many, many crimes, getting worse all the time. And as Maine knows — a major destination for Somali refugees,” he said.
He said Somali resettlement in Minnesota had frayed that state’s safety net while establishing a terrorist enclave.
“And it’s creating a rich pool of Islamist terror groups. It’s happening. You see it happening. You read about it,” he said.
Lewiston and Portland are major resettlement area for Somali refugees. There are no known terrorist attacks that have originated from either city.
In Lewiston, the unemployment rate is 3.5 percent, according to the city. General Assistance payments to refugees has dropped off as the resettlement has slowed to a trickle.
The speech was consistent with Trump’s effort to portray the world as a dark, dangerous place. America, he said, has never been more unsafe.
He has dubbed himself the law and order candidate, the one who will make the country safe, but he has offered few specifics about how he would achieve this. His speech Thursday was no different.
The crowd didn’t seem to mind. They cheered when protesters holding up the Maine Constitution were hustled out of the building by security. They chanted “Lock her up!” when he mentioned Clinton.
“She’s made everybody less safe. Those 33,000 emails are potentially a danger to our country,” Trump said.
It’s been a tough week for Trump. His criticism of the parents of a Muslim American soldier killed in Iraq has drawn broad and bipartisan condemnation. Fellow Republicans continue to bristle at his bombastic, impolitic style. And recent polls show that his rival Hillary Clinton has opened up a sizable lead.
But none of that dampened the enthusiasm of his supporters. They flocked into the cozy confines of the Merrill Auditorium to cheer on the television personality and real estate mogul as he delivered one of his trademark speeches — a meandering, free association performance light on policy specifics and heavy on Trump.
"Major anchors and major political figures have said what Trump has done, meaning what we have done together — it's a movement — is perhaps the greatest political phenomena they have ever seen in their lifetime," he said.
Maine is a purple state that hasn’t selected a Republican president since voters went for George H.W. Bush in 1988. Still, Maine’s unique way of awarding its four electoral votes has proven enticing for the Republican.
He’s hoping he can snag at least one electoral vote here, if not all of them.
“You know what I think you can get all four. So we’ll see, we’ll see,” he said.