DENVER — U.S. Senate candidate Tom Allen of Maine addressed the Democratic National Convention here Wednesday night and said he is running for the Senate to help build a better country for his first grandchild, Charlie, who was born six months ago.
“What kind of country are we building for him and for your children and grandchildren?” Allen asked the delegates.
“Skyrocketing health care costs are crippling small businesses and bankrupting families. Mainers are struggling to pay their home heating oil bills this winter. The Bush economic policies have undermined the promise of America that here everyone has a reasonable chance to get ahead in life,” said Allen.
Allen was one of only four Senate challengers the Democrats chose to highlight during an early evening portion of the program that focused on winning more Democratic seats in the Senate.
Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, who heads up the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, introduced Allen and the other candidates by saying, “We can and we must elect a stronger Democratic majority to the Senate to overcome the obstructionism that threatens Barack Obama’s agenda.”
Schumer said the Democrats believe there are 17 states in which they have a chance to defeat Republicans. They are hoping to attain a 60-vote majority in the Senate to prevent filibusters by the Republicans. Schumer told the delegates that in the past two years, since the Democrats have been in control of Congress, the Republicans have filibustered 92 times.
If Obama is elected president and the Democrats win more seats in the Senate, Allen said, “We’ll solve our energy crisis, provide affordable, quality health care to all Americans, and bring our troops home from Iraq so we can address problems here at home.”
He concluded his remarks by returning to his grandson. “President Barack Obama will make the right choices to deliver real change for our generation and for Charlie’s. Decades from now, I want Charlie and his generation to know that together, we delivered the change that America needs.”
Earlier in the day, Allen appeared with Schumer at a news conference held at the Colorado Convention Center to discuss the Democrats’ prospects in November.
Schumer introduced Allen by saying, “Maine is a state that is becoming bluer and bluer.”
“People are desperate for change in Maine,” Allen said. “Maine is a middle-class, small business state that is not well served by the policies of the Bush Administration.”
He said Sen. Susan Collins, whose seat he is seeking, has voted with the Bush Administration “down the line,” including votes on the Iraq war and energy policy that gave tax breaks to oil companies.
“Change in Washington isn’t an option; it’s a necessity,” said Allen.
Although he acknowledged that Collins is “so much better known than I am” in Maine, he said the campaign is going “phenomenally well.”
A poll of 602 registered Maine voters released by Portland-based Critical Insights on July 24 showed that 51 percent of those surveyed in June supported Collins, while 37 percent favored Allen. About 1 in 10 of those polled were undecided. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.
Schumer said at the news conference Wednesday morning that Collins “tries to come off as moderate but has voted with George Bush most of the time. She’s only moderate when her vote isn’t needed.”
Responding to Allen’s convention speech in a press release Wednesday evening, Maine GOP Chair Mark Ellis noted that the congressman was given “just 1 minute and 48 seconds” to speak.
“If national Democrats recognized Tom Allen’s candidacy as crucial and competitive, it seems they would have given him more time, and a better time slot,” Ellis said.