AUGUSTA – Former Vice President Joe Biden bailed on the Maine Democratic Party’s “rise and organize” virtual rally yesterday. The no-show by Biden came hours after a Reuters report that more than a dozen Biden campaign staffers had donated to a fund to bail out individuals arrested in the often violent protests in Minneapolis. The event was billed as a substitute for the Maine Democratic Party Convention.
The snub of the Maine Democratic Party event left top state and national party figures speaking without the top of their ticket.
Across the nation, protests have turned into riots following the killing of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer who pinned Floyd to the ground with a knee on his neck for more than 8 minutes.
That news drew a swift response from the Trump campaign.
Governor Janet Mills also took time off from managing the civil state of emergency to record a video for the event at the Blaine House, touting a variety of liberal policies she has supported, including taxpayer funded abortion and allowing abortion procedures without a doctor present and the creation of the Maine Climate Council.
As Speaker Sara Gideon’s video ran on the Maine Democratic Party’s live stream, Republicans lit up the event’s #riseandorganize Twitter hashtag. In moments, the feed was full of links to Gideon’s numerous state and federal ethics violations, her co-sponsorship of a 40-cent per gallon gas tax and criticism of Gideon for shutting down the Maine Legislature to campaign for U.S. Senate while Mainers suffer through the pandemic and numerous failures of state government.
One of Gideon’s primary election opponents, Bre Kidman, an attorney from Saco, took the opportunity to smash Gideon and her other opponents for spending money on television ads during the pandemic and hit Gideon for ethics violations.
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders used his video time to criticize “police murder” calling it an “outrage” and demanding change to America’s law enforcement system.
Interestingly, Maine Department of Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman also appeared on the video. Fortman has come under withering criticism for the failure of Maine’s unemployment system to provide payments under federal and state guidelines for months. Fortman followed a promo for Emerge Maine, a Democrat organization that works to elect women to office.
Fortman did not address the current crisis in Maine’s unemployment system, but introduced a video about Frances Perkins, who served as U.S. Labor Secretary under Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Fortman worked at the Frances Perkins Center in Damariscotta for about two years after her first stint as Labor Commissioner under Gov. John Baldacci.
In one interesting segment, Rep. Ryan Fecteau spoke on screen wearing a t-shirt supporting Senator Elizabeth Warren, who ran for President in the primary against Biden.
Others appearing in the video included Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senate candidate Betsy Sweet, Portland City Councilor Pious Ali and Senate President Troy Jackson.
Citing policies supported by most of the participants in the rally, such as the Green New Deal, which would ban home heating oil, RNC Spokesperson Nina McLaughlin said, “Joe Biden and his socialist squad’s radical agenda would devastate Maine and the nation. This November, Mainers will vote for the candidate who has their best interests at heart, and that candidate isn’t Joe Biden.