President Joe Biden made his first visit as president to Maine on Friday, giving a short speech at an Auburn manufacturing company before attending a fundraiser at Wolfe’s Neck in Freeport.
The Commander in Chief landed at the Brunswick Executive Airport, the former location of the Brunswick Naval Air Base, as its runway is long enough to accommodate Air Force One, a customized Boeing 747-200B series aircraft.
Biden deplaned from the big stairs and waved to the hundred or so spectators, mostly supporters, who had gathered to watch him arrive. The 80-year-old made it down the stairs without stumbling.
The president forgot to salute the members of the U.S. military flanking the staircase and then appeared confused as he ambled about the tarmac with liberal Sen. Angus King, who votes and caucuses with Democrats but is not a registered Democrat, and Rep. Chellie Pingree (ME-CD1).
He then boarded Marine One, the presidential helicopter, to fly to Auburn, flanked by three camouflaged V-22 Osprey.
In Auburn, Biden visited Auburn Manufacturing Inc. (AMI) to sign an executive order that he said would promote American manufacturing.
AMI, a woman-owned small business, manufactures flame retardant fabrics and has clients that include defense contractors.
For the past six years, the company has been locked in a bitter trade dispute with the Chinese government, which subsidizes companies that produce competing products.
“The AMI team is incredibly humbled to have hosted an event of such magnitude, collaborating with the White House on behalf of American manufacturing writ large,” said AMI CEO Kathie Leonard.
“President Biden’s visit to Auburn is truly a historic event, reminding all Americans that Maine is on the manufacturing map and that domestic manufacturers like us will never stop working hard and fighting back against even the fiercest competition,” Leonard said.
“We look forward to even brighter days ahead for manufacturers across America,” she said.
Although Biden did not mention AMI’s trade dispute with China, he did claim that his “American Rescue Plan” COVID-19 stimulus package resulted in AMI having its biggest year of exports ever.
The president did mention China when saying that the U.S. had fallen to no. 13 in the world in terms of infrastructure, whereas China ranks no. 2 or 3 — before touting bipartisan legislation that directed $1.5 billion to infrastructure projects in Maine.
Gov. Janet Mills spoke briefly at the Auburn event, touting the role of the Biden Administration’s policies in spurring the creation of new manufacturing jobs, as did Sen. King.
According to the Maine Wire review of Maine Department of Labor data, Maine has added about 2,150 manufacturing jobs since 2018 but is still down more than 20,000 jobs since 2001. Almost half of the state’s recent manufacturing job gains have been in the “Beverage and Tobacco” subsector.
Biden, whose ability to commit egregious gaffes was legendary even before he became Vice President, stumbled occasionally in his prepared remarks.
At one point, Biden suggested — falsely — that former President Donald Trump raised the U.S. national debt by “40 percent” and that he has since reduced that debt by $1.7 trillion.
“In two years, I’ve cut the national debt by one trillion seven-hundred billion dollars while doing all of this. One trillion seven-hundred billion dollars,” he said.
Biden also directed onlookers to go to a website that does not exist and claimed that no one knew what a “supply chain” was before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Outside of AMI, a small group of protesters held signs critical of the president, including one alleging that Biden is a pedophile.
Although Biden is a notorious hair sniffer and recently caused a stir when he tried to nibble a baby in Finland, the allegations of sexual assault that have been made against him involve a former staffer, who was an adult at the time, and no minors.
After the signing ceremony, Biden then proceeded to attend the Freeport fundraising event.
The presidential motorcade pulled into Wolfe’s Neck Road in Freeport around 3:30 pm for the fundraising event. A source said that the event was hosted by the Wishcamper family, which owns several properties on the Wolfe’s Neck peninsula.
The Wishcamper Companies build and operate renewable energy projects and affordable housing.
Chairman Lyndel Wishcamper and several other members of the family have given enormous sums of money to Democratic politicians and political committees in recent years.
Last year, Wishcamper gave $10,000 to the Maine Democratic Party, along with $2,900 to Rep. Jared Golden (ME-CD2).
In 2020, Wishcamper gave $25,000 to the Democratic Senate Majority PAC and $35,100 to the DSCC.
He also gave maximum donations to former Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon, a Portland Democrat, in her race against Sen. Susan Collins.
Gideon, who reportedly attended the fundraiser along with several Democratic elected officials, was endorsed by Biden and went on to lose to Sen. Collins by a whopping 8.6 percent.
When it came to getting back on Air Force One, Biden eschewed the tall stairs to climb the shorter staircase at the back of the plane typically used by members of the White House Press Corps.
Biden departed Maine shortly before 6:00 pm.
Maine Wire Reporters Libby Palanza and Edward Tomic contributed to this story.