In column, Golden says Donald Trump will beat Joe Biden

By Billy Kobin, Bangor Daily News Staff

U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, a Democrat in a major reelection battle in Maine’s swing 2nd District, wrote a July 2 op-ed for the Bangor Daily News saying he believes former President Donald Trump will beat President Joe Biden in November.

Golden shared his thoughts in a Bangor Daily News and Piscataquis Observer op-ed that did not explicitly call for Biden to step aside, something other party members have requested but that top Democrats have ruled out after the president’s shaky debate against Trump reinforced his age of 81 as a top concern for voters across the country.

“It also didn’t rattle me as it has others, because the outcome of this election has been clear to me for months: While I don’t plan to vote for him, Donald Trump is going to win,” Golden said. And I’m OK with that.”

It was an example of presidential politics coming into focus in one of the nation’s top swing districts at a vulnerable time for Biden and his party. The column came hours after a Texas Democrat became the first lawmaker in the party to say the president should withdraw, publicly stating what others have been whispering behind closed doors.

Golden’s column takes a different tack. He said he rejects the premise that “a Trump victory is not just a political loss, but a unique threat to our democracy.” Congress matters more than the president when it comes to the top issue of the economy, he said, citing moves from “responsible Democrats” to push back against proposals from both political parties.

“Unlike Biden and many others, I refuse to participate in a campaign to scare voters with the idea that Trump will end our democratic system,” wrote Golden, a centrist who voted against Biden more than any other House Democrat in 2023 and has three times won the rural, expansive 2nd District carried by Trump in 2016 and 2020.

Golden said Congress matters more than the president when it comes to the economy, citing moves from him and “responsible Democrats” that have pushed back against proposals from both political parties.

Various Maine Democrats stood by Biden after last the debate in which the 81-year-old president struggled to finish some of his responses while Trump repeated numerous false claims, particularly about the Jan. 6, 2021, riots at the U.S. Capitol. The Maine Democratic Party issued a statement affirming its support of the president.

Golden had not responded to requests for comment on Biden’s performance until his column. In February, Golden shared concerns about the ages of both Biden and the 78-year-old Trump, after a special counsel’s report on classified documents described Biden “as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.” 

Golden’s Republican challenger, state Rep. Austin Theriault of Fort Kent, posted a photo of Biden and the congressman together while traveling to Auburn last year and issued a statement saying Golden supports Biden and “will likely do everything he can to distance himself from him in the coming days.” 

Theriault called Golden “a phony” in response to his op-ed, adding Golden will not say whether he supports Biden or believes the former president is “mentally competent.”

Trump, like Biden, is unpopular in polls, and he still faces numerous criminal cases after becoming the first former president to get convicted of a felony in May. But the president has lost ground since the debate, according to Democratic polling obtained by Puck News that shows him dropping 2 percentage points in Maine as well as other potential swing states.

In Maine, a model from the BDN’s national election results partners at Decision Desk HQ gives Biden a 64 percent chance of winning the state, while Trump is a 94 percent bet in the 2nd District. Maine has voted for the Democratic candidate in every presidential election since 1992 but saw Trump win the one elector from the 2nd Congressional District in 2016 and 2020.

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas said in a statement that Biden should “make the painful and difficult decision to withdraw.” Just before that, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, told MSNBC that she believes “it is a legitimate question” whether Biden’s halting performance is just “an episode or is this a condition.”

“My decision to make these strong reservations public is not done lightly nor does it in any way diminish my respect for all that President Biden has achieved,” Doggett said. “Recognizing that, unlike Trump, President Biden’s first commitment has always been to our country, not himself, I am hopeful that he will make the painful and difficult decision to withdraw.”

Information from the Associated Press was used in this article.

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