President Donald Trump paid Maine a visit last Friday to see Puritan Medical Products in Guilford. The company is one of only two major companies that manufacture medical swabs needed for coronavirus testing. The other is in Italy.
The Trump administration is providing $75.5 million through the Defense Production Act for Puritan to double production up to 40 million swabs per month. It currently employees fewer than 400 people, but a second production site by the company is set to open by July 1.
Trump’s visit to the Pine Tree State was not without a jab at Governor Janet Mills. Trump criticized Mills for not moving quickly enough to reopen the state’s economy. He urged his supporters to help him win the rest of the state in November if they want to see the country rebound from the coronavirus pandemic. Trump won only one of Maine’s four electoral votes in 2016.
“When are you going to open the state up?” Trump asked when speaking at Puritan Medical Products. “What’s she doing?”
Earlier in the day, Trump compared Mills to a “dictator” and expressed his opinions on her preventing the economic benefits brought into the state from its tourism season.
“She’s going to destroy your state,” he said. “I’m not a fan.”
Trump also met with members of the commercial fishing industry for a round-table discussion. He signed a proclamation to reopen 5,000 square miles of fishing waters that were closed in 2016 when the Obama administration designated the first and only national marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean.
Trump said he was giving Maine back part of its history and the fishermen their industry. “We’re opening it today. We’re going to solve your fishing problem...Basically, they took away your livelihood. It’s ridiculous,” Trump said.
During his visit, the president also threatened tariffs for the European Union and China if they do not cut tariffs on Maine lobsters. The tariffs, he said, would be equal or higher than those affecting the state’s fishermen.