Dems accuse GOP hopeful of stealing Obama's 'O'

Posted July 01, 2009, at 2:19 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Mainers don’t head to the ballot box to elect the next governor for another 16 months, but the political mud is already flying between Democrats and Republicans.

On Wednesday, the Maine Democratic Party accused presumptive Republican candidate Les Otten of ripping off President Obama’s Web site. Otten’s camp dismissed the allegation and accused leaders of the other party of being petty.

“We hope our opponents return to talking about the issues that are important to the people of the state of Maine,” Otten’s campaign spokeswoman Edith Smith said in a statement.

Interestingly, Otten isn’t even an official candidate yet. The former Sunday River Ski Resort owner and Boston Red Sox executive announced earlier this week that he was setting up an exploratory committee to consider a run for the Blaine House in 2010.

But Otten’s well-polished and professionally designed Web site quickly caught the attention of Democratic party leaders. In fact, party executive director Arden Manning suggests that the reason the site is so slick is that Otten essentially pilfered it from Obama’s historic campaign.

In his own written missive sent to the press, Manning seized upon similarities between graphics on both sites built around the letter “O.”

Obama’s graphic features what appears to be a sun rising over red and white stripes (or fields) against a blue background. Otten’s graphic displays an apparent sun rising over blue and white stripes (or water) with green hills and a green leaf. It also has stars set against a red background where the sky would be.

“Republicans just don’t get it,” Manning said in his statement. “They think they can succeed if they stand for all the same ideas that were soundly defeated in 2008 and support all the same policies as George W Bush, but simply change their branding to copy Barack Obama’s Web site and logo. Well, to copy an Obama slogan myself, ‘That’s not change, that’s more of the same.’”

Otten’s campaign countered that the site was built from scratch by INsyt of Farmington. The company, Smith said, used standard industry templates and colors found on political Web sites nationwide.

As for the use of “O,” Smith wrote that also happens to the first letter of Otten as well.

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