Die-hard Donald Trump fans are likely to be pouring into Bangor on Wednesday as they head to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s first Maine campaign stop since he visited Portland in March.

Joining Trump will be Gov. Paul LePage, who first backed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as a Republican candidate for president, then threw his support to Trump and joined him on the Portland stage after Christie withdrew from the race.

It was expected LePage would introduce Trump on Wednesday, if not appear on stage with him. Trump was scheduled to speak at about 4 p.m., according to his campaign.

On Tuesday, LePage told Bangor’s WVOM talk-radio host Ric Tyler that he would be at the rally “with bells on” in support of Trump, who has upended the Republican establishment and drawn the ire of liberal Democrats.

“He’s a magnet for people; people love to listen to him, I look forward to seeing him,” LePage said. “He’s a personality of his own as we all know and I look forward to seeing him.”

LePage has previously quipped that he would take an appointment in the Trump administration if offered, but the post he wants is ambassador to Canada in the summer and ambassador to Jamaica in the winter.

Trump has an overall favorability rating of just 28 percent, which is lower than presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s 36 percent, according to a June poll by the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram.

But the poll, released earlier this week, shows the two in a virtual tie in the presidential race in Maine’s more rural and northern 2nd Congressional District, where Bangor is located. Among likely voters there, Trump had the support of 37 percent, while Clinton had 36 percent.

Trump supporters said the candidate may be viewing Maine as a possible battleground state — even though the last time the state picked a Republican for president was 1988, when the state went with George H.W. Bush over Michael Dukakis. Based on the recent poll, LePage’s favorability rating of 36 percent is 8 points higher than Trump’s.

Norman Blais, 73, a retired papermaker from Rumford, said he supports both Trump and LePage but wouldn’t be able to make to the rally, even though he wished he could go.

“I think Trump is going to help the country out quite a bit,” Blais said. “I know he talks kind of stupid and sometimes has to take things back, but as far as helping the country out I think he will do pretty good.”

Trump’s visit comes on the heels of a speech he gave Tuesday in Monessen, Pennsylvania, where he not only attacked Clinton again, but railed against globalization of the U.S. economy and free-trade treaties he said were killing American jobs – a message that certainly resonates with some of Maine’s millworkers like Blais, who have seen jobs lost to foreign competition.

Trump told supporters in Pennsylvania on Tuesday he would fight against free-trade treaties that would hurt U.S. workers and would fight to renegotiate existing ones like the North American Free Trade Agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

“This wave of globalization has wiped out totally, totally our middle class,” said Trump, standing in front of stacks of compressed metal on the floor of Alumisource, a plant that provides aluminum scrap and other raw materials to the aluminum and steel industries. “It doesn’t have to be this way. We can turn it around and we can turn it around fast.”

Officials at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor declined to say how much they charged Trump’s campaign to rent the arena, which holds 6,500 people.

A message to Trump’s campaign seeking additional details went unreturned Tuesday.

The Maine Democratic Party was also planning to hold a news conference in advance of Trump’s visit at 1 p.m. Phil Bartlett, chairman of the Maine Democrats, said Tuesday they believed Trump was coming to Maine because it was one of the few places where another Republican politician would welcome him.

“I think there are a lot of places where politicians don’t want him to come; here he’s got a Paul LePage who is a big supporter of his and is welcoming him with open arms,” Bartlett said. “Donald Trump will come and promise the moon but his policies will very clearly undermine the economy here in Maine.”

But Bangor-area business people were at least looking forward to having visitors in town for the day.

“Anytime there is an event that is drawing crowds in, it’s really our businesses’ chance to shine and its Bangor’s chance to shine,” said Brian Cotlar, membership director for the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce.

While the chamber, by policy, does not endorse political candidates or campaigns, Cotlar said any event that brings people to the city would likely be viewed as good for business. “They have to eat, they have to stay somewhere, they shop a little while they are here. It shows people who might not otherwise visit the area what we have to offer, so just about anything that draws a crowd to Bangor is good for businesses in the region.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Scott Thistle can be contacted at 791-6330 or at:

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