Donald Trump

'Open Your State': Trump Blasts Governor During Maine Visit

A small town in Maine was in the national spotlight as President Trump visited Friday

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President Donald Trump ripped Maine's Democratic governor during a trip to the state on Friday, telling her she is moving too slowly to reopen the state from the coronavirus shutdowns.

"When are you going to open this state up?" Trump asked during an afternoon visit to rural Guilford, Maine. "You do 40 million [people] in tourism. This is your time. This is your big month. This is your Christmas in terms of your tourism dollars. How can you be closed?"

Trump's visit prompted lots of protesters — some supporting Black Lives Matter and others supporting the president — to take to the streets.

President Donald Trump visited a medical swab factory in Maine, prompting a divided reaction in the small town of Guilford.

"You ought to get the state opened, governor. Open your state," he said of Gov. Janet Mills, to cheers from the crowd at Puritan Medical Products, a factory that manufactures coronavirus test swabs. "You have a lot of angry people about that in Maine. This is not one that should be closed. You're missing a lot of money, a lot of people, a lot of spirit."

Trump's visit came amid nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd and systemic racism, and a global pandemic.

President Trump on Monday threatened to deploy active duty military units to states around the country to crack down on protests against police brutality, as demonstrators marched for a seventh night in a row.

Ahead of his trip, Mills had urged the president to avoid polarizing rhetoric while he was in the state.

"As the individual responsible for the health and safety of Maine people, including those who support and do not support the president, I again ask the president to check his inflammatory rhetoric at the door and abandon the divisive language that sows seeds of distrust among our people," she said. "I hope he will heed this call and appeal to the best in all people and lead us with courage and compassion through this difficult time."

While many Guilford residents have supported the president -- state data shows he beat Hillary Clinton in town by an almost 2:1 ratio -- there were some concerns that the visit would bring disruption and virus exposure. Despite an influx of about 500 or 600 people, no major problems were reported.

At a press conference on Friday to praise declines in U.S. unemployment rates, President Donald Trump briefly highlighted his plans to address the country's widespread protests against police brutality, saying, "Our country is so strong and that's what my plan is: we're going to have the strongest economy in the world."

Trump also spoke Friday about the surprising May unemployment numbers.

He said the pundits were expecting the jobless numbers to rise, but instead, Friday's report said that employers added 2.5 million jobs last month as the unemployment rate declined to 13.3%.

"The business shows thought it was a typographical error," Trump said.

He said the economy this next year "will be better than any year we've ever had. America's economic comeback has begun. The next year is set to be an amazing year."

Trump arrived in Bangor on Air Force One around 2 p.m. Friday. He hosted a roundtable with local fisherman before heading to the Hardwood Products LLC and Puritan Medical Products facilities.

In April, the U.S. Department of Defense awarded Puritan Medical more than $75 million to double its monthly swab production capacity from 20 million to 40 million. It's hiring more workers to keep up with demand and opening a brand new facility in Pittsfield, Maine.  

Chemists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst are creating a color-coded coronavirus swab test for people to take at home

During the roundtable with fishermen, Trump announced that he was rolling back protections at a marine conservation area off the New England coast, signing an order to allow commercial fishing in a stretch of water environmentalists say is critical for endangered right whales and other fragile marine life.

“We are reopening the Northeast Canyons to commercial fishing,” Trump said. “We’re opening it today.”

The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument off the New England coast, created by former President Barack Obama, was the first national marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean, and one of just five marine monuments nationwide.

It’s also a place fishermen have long harvested lobsters and crabs, and its creation drew the ire of commercial fishing groups, some of whom sued.

Maine is experiencing a relatively large volume of protests in response to the death of George Floyd.

"We just solved a big lobster fisherman problem," Trump said. "We gave 5,000 acres of water right back. With a stroke of the pen, your fishermen like me maybe even more than you like me, OK?"

Mills told the president on a call Monday that she had security concerns about his visit to Maine after his heated rhetoric on the nationwide protests in the wake of Floyd’s death that, in many cities, have been used by instigators and vandals as opportunities to start looting and damaging property.

She said she worried Trump's "presence in Maine" would create "unrest" and urged him to avoid divisive rhetoric during his time in the state.

There were a lot of protesters on hand Friday, and while some of them engaged, for the most part they were peaceful.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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