Democrat Sara Gideon of Freeport, a candidate for the U.S. Senate, talks to a crowd gathered in Kennedy Park in Lewiston on Friday morning during a campaign stop. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

LEWISTON – Democrats sought Friday to rally the faithful during the final days of a long, sometimes brutal campaign.

“The entire country is watching Maine right now,” said Sarah King, co-president of the Bates College Democrats, during a gathering in Kennedy Park with the party’s U.S. Senate contender, Sara Gideon of Freeport.

Massachussetts Congressman Joe Kennedy talks to a crowd gathered in Simard Payne Memorial Park in Lewiston Friday afternoon as he campaigns for the Biden/Harris ticket. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

A couple of hours later, U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy of Massachusetts, grandson of Robert Kennedy, told a Lewiston Democrats rally that “Maine has such an important role to play at every level” this year because it has close, contested races for the U.S. House, U.S. Senate and president.

“On Tuesday night,” Kennedy said, “the eyes of the nation are going to be” on the Pine Tree State.

Gideon told about 75 Bates College students to do their part.

“This is your country,” she said. “This is your time.”

Gideon is locked in a close race to try to unseat four-term U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, with control of the Senate potentially at stake as Democrats try to pick up a few seats so they can oust Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Maine’s 2nd Congressional District has been a tough one for Democrats for several election cycles, but polls show U.S. Rep. Jared Golden of Lewiston with a big lead as he seeks a second term versus GOP challenger Dale Crafts of Lisbon.

The presidential race features Democrat Joe Biden taking aim at President Donald Trump in a contest that Kennedy said “is not a test of character or vision” between the two men.

It is, he said, “a test for the rest for us” about what kind of country and what sort of future Americans want.

Bates College students Daphne Valen, left, and Sadie Murray film a video for their Instagram page, Bates for Biden, with Joe Kennedy at a rally in Simard-Payne Memorial Park in Lewiston on Friday afternoon where he was stumping for Joe Biden for president. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Annie Clark, spokesperson for Collins, said her campaign is confident that Mainers will see through the “millions of dollars in false attack ads” and reelect “the person they’ve known for years who leads and delivers on the most pressing issues facing our country, but who still cares deeply about the individual problems facing every Maine family.”

“For Sen. Collins, the focus of this race has always been on the people of Maine and what she has and can still do for them,” Clark said.

Gideon said there are many important issues on the agenda, from coping with the climate crisis to restoring the nuclear deal with Iran that Trump abandoned.

“There is so much that is going wrong,” Gideon said.

But, she told the students, the election is “bigger and deeper” than what Trump and the GOP is doing.

“It is about our potential,” Gideon said, about the need “to be better and bigger we are today.”

Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy talks to a crowd gathered in Simard-Payne Memorial Park in Lewiston on Friday afternoon as he campaigns for the Biden/Harris ticket. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

At Simard-Payne Memorial Park, Lewiston City Council member Safiya Khalid told about 50 Democratic loyalists that Trump “has peddled hate and fear in a cynical attempt to divide us” from the moment he entered politics.

“He has made my family, and families like mine, a target for venom and violence, and made our country meaner, weaker, poorer, and sicker,” she said.

She hailed Kennedy for coming to a city that has long had ties to his family, all the way back to Robert Kennedy’s days as a student at Bates during World War II.

Diane Grandmaison, one of the local party’s stalwarts, recalled candidate John F. Kennedy’s preelection rally in 1960 at what was then called City Park.

“We waited and waited” well into the night, she said, “and finally he came.”

Roland Hachey, another longtime Lewiston Democrat who helped with former U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy’s unsuccessful 1980 presidential campaign, said he arrived early at the 1960 rally to make sure he could get a spot up front on the rope line.

It was “very cold” that night, but John Kennedy finally arrived in the middle of the night, with torches lighting the way for thousands of people who stuck around to see him.

Both were thrilled that another member of the Kennedy family accepted the party’s invitation to come and talk with them.

Kennedy said the nation is better than Trump.

He urged the crowd to support “another guy named Joe who’s a pretty decent guy.”


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