State Rep. Scott Strom, R-Pittsfield, fires up the crowd on Lisbon Street in Lewiston during Tuesday’s “Stop the Madness” rally in support of President Donald Trump. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

LEWISTON — The showdown between President Donald Trump’s supporters and detractors came to Lisbon Street on Tuesday as both sides gathered in front of U.S. Rep. Jared Golden’s office to try to sway the first-term Democrat to take their position in the debate over impeachment.

“I’m an equal opportunity un-employer,” said Eric Bleicken of Portland, who strongly supports President Donald Trump.

About 75 pro-Trump demonstrators gathered for the “Stop the Madness” rally — holding signs and chanting “We love Trump!” — while about 15 gathered on the other side of the street in favor of impeaching the president.

Linda Porter of Herman, who came with her grandson, said she showed up “to support Trump, the man we believe in.”

She said the effort to impeach the president “is just a Democratic game, a stall tactic wasting time.”

Demi Kouzounas, chairwoman of the Maine Republican Party, said Mainers “feel like they’re being silenced” as the drama plays out on Capitol Hill — and they’re tired of it.

Kouzounas said Democrats should “wait for us to make a decision” in 13 months about who should sit in the White House rather than trying to force Trump out of office early over a manufactured scandal about the president’s effort to get Ukraine to investigate political opponents.

Others on both sides took a shriller approach, screaming at one another.

When Republicans chanted “four more years,” their counterparts across the road chimed in with “in jail” responses.

“Stand up for America, you fools,” shrieked Jim Hewey of Gray, whose bellows sometimes managed to drown out GOP speakers using a megaphone.

Hewey said Trump “is very un-American.”

“He’s the worst president we’ve ever had,” Hewey said.

When Jim Hewey heard about the rally for President Trump he drove from his home in Gray to Lewiston to shout his displeasure with the administration during Tuesday’s “Stop the Madness” rally on Lisbon Street in Lewiston. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Eric Bleicken of Portland, though, showed up to rally for Trump.

“I love this president,” he said. “This guy is a great president,” a genius “who thrives on conflict.”

Holding up a bumper sticker that told Maine’s entire congressional delegation, “You’re Fired,” Bleicken declared himself “an equal opportunity un-employer.”

The rally is part of a national effort by Republicans to pressure vulnerable Democrats, such as Golden, to refrain from supporting what they call “Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer’s impeachment witch hunt.”

Democrat Pelosi is speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives; Democrat Schumer is minority leader of the U.S. Senate.

Jason Savage, executive director of the state GOP, said the idea is to “draw attention to the fact that Jared Golden should be working to improve the lives of the people of the 2nd District,” rather than “running around talking about impeachment.”

Golden is one of a few Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives who has not said he supports the impeachment inquiry that Pelosi, the speaker, launched recently after revelations about Trump’s actions in Ukraine.

Golden said later in the day he supports everyone’s “right to demonstrate and voice their opinions, no matter their politics.”

“We should all be able to agree that we can’t allow foreign governments to interfere in American elections,” Golden said, “which is why I will continue to follow the House investigation of the whistleblower complaint and treat the fact-finding efforts with the gravity and judgment they deserve.”

But, he said, “I’m also focused on solving everyday problems for Mainers in the 2nd District, which is why I was in Waldo County today discussing solutions to address veterans’ homelessness and supporting the opening of a first-in-the-nation credit union for Maine’s family farmers.“

Savage said instead of talking about the possibility of impeachment, Golden should simply say there is nothing to it.

“Now it’s Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine,” Kouzounas said, “and we are sick and tired of our voices not being heard.”

Former state Rep. Lisa Villa of Harrison, who backed Bernie Sanders in 2016, said she gave up on the Democrats when they “literally stole the primary from him” when Hillary Clinton won more delegates in the party’s primaries three years ago.

“The greatest injustice of all,” she said, is Clinton and the party colluded with the media to lie to the millions of Sanders’ backers that year.

When she voted in the 2016 general election, Villa said, she picked Trump because he showed “honesty and transparency” and fought against injustice.

Now, Villa said, Democrats are trying to do the same thing to Trump that they did to Sanders.

“I find it reprehensible and undemocratic,” she said.

Republican 2nd Congressional District hopeful Eric Brakey, a former state senator from Auburn, said it is “incredibly undemocratic for this witch hunt to continue” after a two-year probe by Robert Mueller the candidate called “a complete charade.”

Brakey said Golden ought to support Trump’s effort to “get to the bottom” of the foreign interference in the 2016 election.

Though the U.S. government’s intelligence agencies have said publicly that Russia interfered in the race to help Trump, Brakey insisted “many countries were involved in trying to support the campaign of Hillary Clinton.”

A bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report issued Tuesday — with the backing of Maine’s U.S. senators, Susan Collins, a Republican, and Angus King, an independent — endorsed those agencies’ findings and declared Russia “sought to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election by harming Hillary Clinton’s chances of success and supporting Donald Trump at the direction of the Kremlin.”

Golden’s sprawling, rural district voted for Trump by a 10-point margin in 2016, one reason the GOP thinks they have a shot at unseating Golden next year.

Savage said Golden is “trying to have it both ways” by refusing to endorse the impeachment inquiry while mentioning it favorably.

Kouzounas said she understands Golden is not in an easy position.

“He’s in Trump country,” she said, adding Golden “just squeaked by” in 2018 to capture the seat.

Now, Kouzounas said, Golden must decide whether he will “listen to Mainers” or listen to activists, such as U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, and congressional leaders, including Pelosi and Schumer.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. 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.