October 11, 2010

ON MAINE POLITICS: 'Lightning round' enlightens

By Susan M. Cover scover@mainetoday.com
State House Bureau

Being quick on your feet is a good thing, especially in politics.

In addition to answering numerous serious questions about jobs, health care and education, the gubernatorial candidates have addressed their fair share of "lightning round" questions that give them a chance to show a less scripted, more human side.

At the Eggs & Issues forum in Portland, the master of the lightning round, WGME's Gregg Lagerquist, peppered them with quite a variety of stuff.

Will medical marijuana hurt Maine?

All five said no.

Would you ever get a prescription for it?

"My wife won't give it to me," said independent Eliot Cutler, referring to Dr. Melanie Stewart Cutler, a psychiatrist.

Democrat Libby Mitchell: "Only if I need one."

Have you ever camped at a Maine state park?

Mitchell said no. All the rest said yes.

Should the governor have line-item veto power?

Cutler: "Absolutely yes."

Republican Paul LePage: "A good governor doesn't need it, but a weak governor may have to have it."

Mitchell: "No. I don't need it."

Independent Shawn Moody and independent Kevin Scott both said yes.

Would you raise the sales tax to balance the budget?

Cutler: "The first thing we have to do is get the spending under control," he said. "We have to squeeze the living bejesus out of (the budget)."

LePage: "Prioritize, then look at it."

Mitchell: "No for now, and I want to know what bejesus means."

Cutler: "Libby, it's an old Maine expression."

Mitchell: "Well you've squeezed the bejesus out of it already."

And, at a forum later in the week, the candidates were asked about their favorite fair food.

LePage: "Favorite fair food? I don't have any."

Moody: "Fried dough."

Scott: "Fresh cut potato chips."

Cutler: "I love fried dough with maple syrup and cinnamon."

Mitchell: "Fried dough and blooming onions."

Mitchell pulls ad?

The LePage campaign sent a news release Friday indicating that Mitchell had pulled an ad critical of LePage's educational polices.

On Thursday, Republican lawmakers and others held a news conference to refute some of the claims made in the Mitchell ad.

In the release, the LePage campaign said it applauded the news that the "Mitchell campaign has pulled its false education attack ad off the Maine airwaves."

Not so, says Mitchell spokesman David Loughran. The ad has stopped running, but that's because they changed to a new series of ads earlier in the week.

"We switched to a new ad three days before their press conference," he said. "We fully stand by the ad."

Scott gets endorsement

Scott has been endorsed by Belfast Mayor Walter Ash, a Democrat and former state lawmaker.

"The reason I am endorsing Kevin Scott is he is a human being, a person I can talk to who listens to me," Ash said in a statement released by the Scott campaign. "I want our governor to be someone who will look me in the eye and provide actual, detailed solutions and plans to improve Maine."

Scott, of Andover, owns his own corporate recruiting firm and is making his first run for statewide office.

Cutler backers form PAC

A group of Republicans, Democrats and independents have joined together to form a political action committee so they can raise and spend money on behalf of Cutler.

The Campaign for Maine will run ads to tell voters how Cutler differs from Mitchell and LePage, according to a news release.

Members of the PAC include Tony Buxton and Jon Doyle, attorneys and State House lobbyists; Jean Gulliver, former chairwoman of the Maine Board of Education; and Kay Rand, a public affairs consultant and former chief of staff for independent Gov. Angus King.

(Continued on page 2)

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