Poliquin dodges Trump questions after audiotape leak

U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin avoided questions from Roll Call on Friday about whether he’ll support presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

It came after Bangor Daily News blogger Mike Tipping published a leaked audiotape of the Republican from Maine’s 2nd District telling conservatives in Portland that the divisive billionaire “will win” the presidency and turn to House Republicans to craft policy.

But Poliquin hasn’t endorsed Trump officially and when asked about it on Capitol Hill by the newspaper on Friday, he “refused to answer or acknowledge the questions” and “stared straight ahead and occasionally looked at his phone, walking briskly from the House floor to another press conference.”

This wasn’t Poliquin’s first awkward encounter with Beltway reporters: In March, POLITICO asked him if he’d appear with Trump in Maine and he replied that it was a “good question.” Then, “an uncomfortable pause ensued as the question hung in the air and Poliquin waited for an elevator to the House floor.”

So far, Poliquin’s only public comment on Trump has been a statement in which he didn’t name the candidate, saying he’s the only “major job creator” in the race and praising him for his stances on trade.

The first-term congressman’s reticence to address Trump in public could be because of his heavily targeted 2016 re-election race against Democrat Emily Cain, who blasted him in a Friday statement after the tape was published, saying Poliquin “hasn’t been straight with Mainers.” — Michael Shepherd

Quick hits

  • National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis will be in East Millinocket at noon and Orono at 5 p.m. today for much-anticipated public forums on millionaire entrepreneur Roxanne Quimby’s proposal for a national monument in Maine’s North Woods region. Here’s what to expect according to Nick Sambides Jr, the Bangor Daily News’ expert on the matter.
  • Gov. Paul LePage was pilloried on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” in a segment called “People Who Somehow Got Elected,” a rehash of the Republican’s most controversial statements.
  • Last week, LePage responded to the Portland Press Herald’s report on a Maine Warden Service sting operation in Allagash to say that former Maine Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, may say it’s normal there to “drink beer behind the wheel” and “smoke pot.” However, Jackson, who’s running for his old seat in 2016, recently passed a drug test for a job and challenged LePage to one last week, saying he didn’t appreciate the governor “using his fixation on me as an opportunity to disparage my community.”
  • AOL named LePage as one of nine possible vice presidential picks for Trump, but don’t put too much stock in it: It’s only AOL and LePage, an early Trump endorser, has said “we’re too much alike” for that, according to the Press Herald.
  • The U.S. Navy is about to take ownership of the USS Zumwalt, the $4.4 billion destroyer built at Bath Iron Works, according to the Associated Press. — Michael Shepherd

Reading list

Best of Maine’s Craigslist

  • “TRIM, ATTRACTIVE FEMALES” WANTED FOR EXTREMELY LONG SAILING TRIP: A sailor may be “old, but he “still enjoy(s) the sight and company of trim, attractive females.” He wants two to join him on a trip from Belfast to (maybe!) Malaysia. Space is limited, so ladies are limited to “4 pairs of shoes,” “2 or 3 bikinis,” 3 “mix and match, all occasion outfits + a little black dress” and “5 pairs of shorts, socks, and underwear.”
  • MATH IS … EASY: Someone is Lewiston is selling a bag of diatomaceous earth, a type of sediment that humans can eat, but that kills insects by dehydrating their exoskeletons. “Less than 5 pounds has been used” of the 50-pound bag, “so there is still more than 45 pounds left with my best estimation.” That’s math even a reporter can do. — Michael Shepherd
Michael Shepherd

About Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after covering state, federal and local issues for the Kennebec Journal for three years. He's a Hallowell native who now lives in Gardiner. He graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service.