HARTLAND — The day after the Republican Party officially nominated Donald Trump as its nominee for president, U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin refused to answer multiple questions as to whether he will support or endorse his party’s controversial standard-bearer.

Poliquin, running for re-election in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, toured the Tasman Leather Group factory Wednesday morning in Hartland and would not comment on Trump’s nomination the previous night. Poliquin earlier had not responded directly when asked during the campaign whom he supports for president.

Tuesday night, party delegates formally nominated Trump for president at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

“I don’t get involved in the presidential election. They’re doing that in Cleveland,” Poliquin said Wednesday when asked directly if he supports Trump. “I’m here to learn as much as I can about leather making by the folks here at Tasman.”

Poliquin’s opponent in the November election for the 2nd District seat, Democrat Emily Cain, said in an emailed statement Wednesday that it was “disappointing” Poliquin would not say whether he supports Trump. Cain was an early supporter of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and her campaign has taken shots at Poliquin for “caginess” on the Trump question.

“Why won’t he just tell us his beliefs, like Senator Collins has done?” Cain said in the statement. “How hard is it to answer a simple question? I don’t always agree with my friends and neighbors, but I will always be honest and open about my beliefs.”


U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, also has not endorsed Trump, but she has discussed his candidacy publicly, telling CNN on Tuesday that she is troubled by comments Trump has made that were discriminatory or demeaning to minorities, women and people with disabilities. Collins said she hasn’t decided who she will vote for in the fall – saying she is “not completely closing the door” on voting for Clinton instead of Trump – but it’s “more likely that I would decide to write in a candidate or choose another approach.”

Collins, speaking from the convention, said she is looking forward to hearing what Trump has to say at the convention Thursday night, and whether he will be able to reach out to groups he had insulted.

“There are some things that Donald Trump has said that I completely agree with. For example, his focus on jobs and relieving the stagnation of wages in this country,” Collins told CNN. “The fact that there have been some poorly negotiated trade agreements that have cost us good manufacturing jobs in my state and others. On those issues, I think he is on the right track. But there are other areas where I disagree with him.”

Other members of Maine’s congressional delegation have endorsed Clinton. Independent Sen. Angus King, who caucuses with Democrats, did so last week, and Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree endorsed her last year.

Poliquin’s campaign previously provided a statement on the presidential race that does not mention Trump by name, saying it’s “critical the next president of the United States is helpful in creating jobs and growing the economy,” and “only one candidate now has been a major job creator.”

Poliquin did not attend Trump’s rally in Bangor last month.

Political observers say the presidential race is sure to affect the 2nd District contest between Poliquin and Cain, which a Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram poll found last month to be virtually tied.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.