At a newly-opened campaign office in Portland over the weekend, Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Cecile Richards (speaking in a personal rather than organizational capacity) joined First-District congresswoman Chellie Pingree to make the case for why Maine Democrats should support former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the March 6th presidential primary.
“I am particularly proud to be supporting Hillary for the presidency of the United States. The very idea that we could have a woman in the White House…” said Pingree, who was drowned out by applause. “She’s not just a woman candidate and a woman president but perhaps the most qualified person we’ve ever seen.”
Richards, who is from Texas but noted that she spends part of every summer in Maine, compared Clinton’s campaign to that of her mother, Ann Richards, the first female governor of the Lone Star State. She praised Clinton for her longstanding commitment on health care and economic issues of importance to women and families.
“Hillary has been out there from day one. She’s not a newcomer to these issues,” said Richards. “She introduced eight bills to advance reproductive rights in the U.S. Senate and that’s eight more than anyone else running for president.”
Richards said she had flown in the night before after helping to re-open the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs closed after the shooting there late last year.
It’s unlikely that there will be any reliable polls of the Maine Democratic electorate ahead of the caucuses, but geography and demographics may give Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders the edge. He won the primary in neighboring New Hampshire by a wide margin.
Clinton, however, may have the momentum coming out of a win in the Nevada caucuses on Saturday and likely victories in several large states on Super Tuesday. If her campaign is successful in engaging women voters, who make up a majority of the Democratic electorate in Maine, they could win a surprise victory.
But Ben Collings, campaign manager for Sanders’ Maine campaign, isn’t worried.
“Maine is Bernie Country!” wrote Collings by email. “Bernie 2016 has several offices open to keep up with the many energized supporters around the State. In about 30 years of campaigning in Maine, I do not recall the level of excitement being generated by a Democratic Candidate as we have witnessed with Senator Sander’s campaign.”
Both Richards and Pingree stressed the need for Democrats to come together, regardless of who wins the nomination, to defeat the Republican candidate in November.
“We’re really proud as democrats to have right now two great candidates,” said Pingree. “When I tune in to the debates or the town hall forums, I think these are two people who are pushing the issues that we care about, who are pushing each other on the issues and they’re talking about the things the American people want to hear.”