Live updates: Crowds gather at Brunswick airport, Auburn manufacturer for Biden's arrival in Maine

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Jul. 28—11:50 a.m. AUBURN — Though the inside of Auburn Manufacturing is bustling with fanfare, the building's periphery remains unexpectedly quiet.

Under the hot summer sun, the parking lot is nearly deserted with the exception of secret service personnel, checkpoint workers and the occasional straggling attendee.

Lewiston resident Shukri Abdirahman, 24, said she expected the pomp and circumstance to find its way outside.

"I thought there would be a lot of people here, many many crowds," Abdirahman said. "But it's kind of quiet and organized and everyone has to go through checkpoints, which is interesting."

The atmosphere inside tells a much different story. Upwards of 150 supporters are chatting anxiously amongst themselves, awaiting President Biden's arrival as music blares through the speakers.

— Emma Kilbride (Press Herald)

Wheels down in Brunswick. #mepolitics

— Ben McCanna (@BenMcCanna) July 28, 2023

11:30 a.m. BRUNSWICK — The crowd at Brunswick Executive Airport grew larger as the morning wore on.

"It's the president of the United States. It's inspiring to see things like this go down," said Brunswick resident Duane, 55, who declined to give his last name but said he is a Biden supporter.

Others said that although they are not staunch Biden supporters, or even Biden supporters at all, that they were excited to take the opportunity to see the President of the United States in person.

"I'm just here for fun," said one attendee who declined to share his name and age. "I happened to be in the area and remembered he was coming and just thought I would stop by. I have no political agenda I'm just a bystander," he said.

Five U.S. government helicopters were stationed on the tarmac awaiting the arrival of Air Force One.

— Lana Cohen (Press Herald)

11:25 a.m. — Maine U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree, Jared Golden and U.S. Sen. Angus King are all traveling with Biden on Air Force One to Brunswick.

Others traveling with the president include Deputy Chief of Staff Bruce Reed, Deputy Chief of Staff Natalie Quillian, senior advisor and director of Oval Office operations Annie Tomasini and Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, according to a report from the White House press pool.

Biden did not speak with reporters before he boarded Air Force One at 11 a.m. He is scheduled to land in Brunswick shortly after noon, although it appears he is behind schedule.

Presumably a Secret Service officer directing aircraft in preparation for Pres. Biden's arrival in Brunswick. #mepolitics

— Ben McCanna ? (@BenMcCanna) July 28, 2023

The president will land in Brunswick and then travel by helicopter to Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport. Lewiston Mayor Carl Sheline, Auburn Mayor Jason Levesque and Gov. Janet Mills will great the president on the ground.

— Gillian Graham (Press Herald), Andrew Rice (Sun Journal)

11:20 a.m. AUBURN — Every president who has come to Auburn used a different mode of transportation.

When Theodore Roosevelt became the first sitting president to visit Auburn, arriving by train, residents and shopkeepers festooned the city with patriotic banners, flags and posters, lining the street to shout their good wishes to the nation's leader, who was escorted by the mayors of Lewiston and Auburn. That was in 1902.

A decade later, the only other sitting president to come to Auburn, nobody did anything for him. That's because the community had no idea he was coming.

William Howard Taft, staying at Poland Springs, gave up golf on a crummy fall day and decided to take a train to Portland. He drove to the Danville Junction station in Auburn, got on board a special train and off he went with no hoopla. When he returned that evening, he got in a car and drove back to Poland Springs, again barely noticed.

When Joe Biden arrives today on his way to give a speech at Auburn Manufacturing, he'll be the first president in 111 years to visit Auburn. He's coming by helicopter.

— Steve Collins (Sun Journal)

11:15 a.m. AUBURN — Dozens of people, including union workers and local officials, were lined up outside Auburn Manufacturing in advance of President Biden's arrival.

Cynthia Phinney, president of the Maine AFL-CIO, gathered with several workers.

"It's exciting to have a president in Maine, especially with what this president has done to build programs that support communities with good jobs and infrastructure," she said. "It's just really special to get to see the president and get to hear him talk firsthand."

Auburn City Councilor Stephen Milks, Planning Board Chair Stacey LeBlanc and Planning Board member Evan Cyr were also in line.

"It's a cool thing for the city," Milks said. "You only get invited so many times to see a president. I'm looking forward to hearing what he has to say."

Sofia Draeger, a 16-year-old Falmouth junior, said she is excited at the chance to meet a president.

She said her family is always "digging into the political world and current events" at the dinner table so this is a rare chance to see it in person.

Biden is expected to deliver remarks around 1:15 p.m. A good crowd had gathered inside a large warehouse at the manufacturing plant as of 11 a.m. Officials said the limit would be about 180.

— Rachel Ohm (Press Herald), Steve Collins (Sun Journal)

11:05 a.m. BRUNSWICK — As of 10:40 a.m., approximately 50 people had lined up in a grassy area on the far side of a fence separating the parking lot and the tarmac at Brunswick Executive Airport in hopes of catching a glimpse of President Biden and Air Force One.

Groups of people clustered near trees, finding shade and reprieve from the cloudless sky and summer heat.

"I thought it might be a good opportunity to see Biden from a distance and to support him," said Brunswick resident Janice Van Etten, 72.

"He shepherded us through COVID and put the economy back together. He wants to work in a bipartisan way," she added when asked why she supports the president.

— Lana Cohen (Press Herald)

11 a.m. AUBURN — President Joe Biden's visit to Auburn has a clear political agenda: Trying to persuade Mainers in the 2nd Congressional District to give him a chance.

In the 2020 race, when Biden defeated incumbent Republican Donald Trump, the Democrat easily won the state of Maine and its 1st Congressional District. But Trump got one electoral vote by capturing the sprawling, rural district that includes Auburn and nearby Lewiston.

Biden did win both cities and in Auburn, he beat Trump by a 52-44 margin.

Given that there are scenarios where the entire presidential election could turn on who wins the 2nd District, Biden would like to see its blue-collar base shift its sympathies. Voters in the district have, after all, elected Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Golden of Lewiston three straight times in congressional elections.

Though Golden's voting record on Capitol Hill hasn't always aligned with the president's agenda, his success at the polls shows Democrats can win in the 2nd District.

Making a case for his economic policies in Auburn today is an indication Biden isn't giving up on the region.

— Steve Collins (Sun Journal)

10:45 a.m. FREEPORT — After visiting Auburn Manufacturing, Biden will travel to Freeport to attend a private fundraising event.

Officials have not released details about the event, but a post on a Facebook group for Freeport residents suggests it will be held at a home on Wolfe's Neck Road. The post, which is attributed to Wolfe's Neck Center, alerts residents that a section of Wolfe's Neck Road will be closed for much of the day and guests will be shuttled to the event from a parking area at the center.

An invitation obtained by WMTW indicates that the fundraiser is for the Biden Victory Fund and that the host committee includes former U.S. Senate candidate Sara Gideon and Justin Alfond, former Maine State Senate president. Tickets for the event range from $3,300 to $25,000, the station reported.

— Gillian Graham (Press Herald)

10:40 a.m. BRUNSWICK — At the Brunswick Executive Airport about two and a half hours before the expected arrival of Air Force One, there was minimal activity outside of media members and security officials moving around the parking areas near the airport.

A group of Brunswick residents awaits the arrival of President Biden at Brunswick Executive Airport on Friday morning.

— Ben McCanna ? (@BenMcCanna) July 28, 2023

Prior to the president's arrival, members of the press will be shuttled from the parking area to the tarmac where Biden and his team will deplane and then board a helicopter.

The Brunswick airport, located on the former U.S. Navy base, has the longest runway in Maine and is often used during presidential visits because it doesn't have the same commercial traffic as Portland.

— Lana Cohen (Press Herald)

10:30 a.m. AUBURN — At Auburn Manufacturing on Friday morning, the scene was quiet ahead of President Biden's visit. The business is located inside an industrial park and there were neither protesters nor supporters set up outside around 10 a.m.

A security checkpoint was set up at the business entrance, but arrivals were mostly members of the media.

President Biden is scheduled to arrive by plane at Brunswick Executive Airport around 1 p.m. and then travel from Brunswick to Auburn via helicopter, likely to avoid having a motorcade traverse through mostly back roads.

Gov. Janet Mills and Maine Senate President Troy Jackson are among those expected to be on hand to greet the president ahead of his remarks.

— Rachel Ohm (Press Herald)


President Biden will visit a manufacturing facility in Auburn Friday to highlight investments that have strengthened local economies and created good-paying jobs, his press secretary said Thursday.

Biden will fly into Brunswick Executive Airport before traveling to Auburn Manufacturing Inc. early Friday afternoon, according to details released by the White House Thursday afternoon.

"He's going to be visiting a manufacturing facility to discuss how Bidenomics is revitalizing American manufacturing," Karine Jean-Pierre said when asked about the trip Thursday. She cited $1.5 billion in federal investments in Maine infrastructure, including expansion of high-speed internet.

"Bidenomics," a term the president was at first reluctant to embrace, has become a buzzword in recent weeks as his administration and Democratic supporters point to economic progress they attribute to investments in workers and infrastructure. It's the antithesis to Reaganomics, also known as trickle-down economics, which is the theory that tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy are a way to stimulate economic activity that ultimately benefits middle- and low-income families.

Yesterday, I spoke with Lana Cohen from the @PressHerald about the President's trip to Auburn, Maine to highlight how Bidenomics and his Investing in America Agenda are revitalizing manufacturing and bringing investments and jobs to communities.

— Karine Jean-Pierre (@PressSec) July 28, 2023

While at Auburn Manufacturing, the president will sign an executive order to prioritize America's policy of "invent it here, make it here." The order boosts the incentive to manufacture new inventions in the United States when those inventions are developed using taxpayer dollars.

The executive order also improves transparency, cuts red tape and streamlines reporting requirements in the federal research and development process, encourages the expansion of domestic production for critical industries and makes the domestic manufacturing waiver process clearer, timelier and more consistent, according to the White House.

The executive order will help modernize the government reporting system to help researchers, companies and the public better understand the innovation landscape in the U.S. It directs agencies to streamline reporting requirements, encourages agencies to consider domestic manufacturing in their research and development award solicitations and instructs the Department of Commerce to improve the transparency of the process used to approve waivers for manufacturing an invention outside of the U.S.

Biden also will attend a campaign fundraising reception in Freeport later Friday afternoon before flying to Delaware. The location and details of the Freeport fundraiser were not released.

It will be the first time Biden has visited the state as president, and the visit comes as he is ramping up his campaign for reelection.

This story will be updated. Follow along all day for live updates from our journalists.