Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is coming to Maine for the third time during his bid for the White House, making a campaign stop at Portland’s Merrill Auditorium Thursday.

The Trump campaign website announced the venue late Monday after news of the visit was leaked to the media over the weekend but no details were provided. Trump’s appearance was first scheduled for 10 a.m. but was later changed to 2 p.m.

Trump first came to Maine in March, appearing in Portland with Gov. Paul LePage. He then made a stump stop in Bangor in late June, also with LePage.

Merrill Auditorium can seat up to 2,000 people, according to the auditorium website. Those wanting to attend the event can request tickets through the campaign’s website, which said the doors will open at 11 a.m.

It was not immediately clear whether LePage would attend the event Thursday, which was being billed as a town hall meeting.

Over the weekend, Trump’s campaign also named Christie-Lee McNally as its Maine campaign director. McNally has been active in Republican politics in Maine since at least 2005, when she served as a special assistant to House Republican Caucus in the Maine Legislature. McNally also served as the Maine Republican Party’s executive director from 2009 to 2011.


In a text message Monday night, McNally wrote that additional details on the Trump visit would be made available as she receives them.

Messages to LePage’s communications staff were not returned Monday night.

Some political observers have speculated that Trump is interested in Maine because the state has a split electoral vote system instead of the winner-take-all format used in most states. That means the winner in each of Maine’s two congressional districts is awarded one electoral vote, and the statewide winner gets the remaining two electoral votes. Although Maine adopted the split-vote system in 1972, the state has never split its votes and all four have gone to the same candidate.

State Sen. Garrett Mason, R-Lisbon, a Trump supporter who had previously backed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s bid for the White House, said Monday that Trump was likely coming to Portland in hopes of winning at least one and perhaps as many as three of Maine’s Electoral College votes in November.

Mason said he and other Republicans in the Maine Senate are unlikely to be in attendance Thursday because they will be meeting to take confirmation votes on a number of LePage appointees to state boards and commissions.

Portland is in Maine’s 1st Congressional District, which is largely dominated by Democrats. However, the city is also the hub for most of the state’s largest media outlets, including its biggest television broadcasters, which also cover some of the larger population centers of the 2nd Congressional District. The city’s airport makes it a relatively easy stop for a national campaign. It’s likely the stop also will draw attention from the Boston media market.


Jason Savage, the executive director for the Maine Republican Party, said the Portland stop makes sense for Trump in that context.

“From a campaign perspective you can triple up your value in one state,” he said, adding that Trump also might be targeting dissatisfied Maine Democrats who favored Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

“Hillary Clinton’s support in Maine is a half a mile wide and an inch deep,” Savage said.

A poll by the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram in late June showed Trump had an overall favorability rating of just 28 percent in Maine, compared to Clinton’s 36 percent.

But the poll, conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, also showed the two in a near tie in the presidential race in the 2nd District, which includes Lewiston and Bangor. Among likely voters in the district, 37 percent supported Trump and 36 percent backed Clinton.


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