FORT KENT, Maine — In a sort of “Primary Colors” meets “Easy Rider,” independent Senatorial candidate Angus King began a 600-hundred-mile motorcycle trek Monday morning in Fort Kent that is expected to end Thursday in Kittery.
King is running for the seat now held by U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe who in February announced her decision not to seek re-election.
“This is a great way to see the state and see the people,” King said as he stopped in Monday at Doris’ Cafe in Fort Kent for breakfast. “The whole idea of this is to meet and talk to the people of Maine.”
King was in Aroostook County all weekend after opening his new campaign office in Presque Isle on Friday and participating in events at the annual Potato Blossom Festival in Fort Fairfield.
“Our [motorcycle] route is taking us through some of the smaller towns in Maine,” he said. “I want to get to the places generally the other candidates don’t often stop.”
King has consistently tried to bolster his image as an everyman, despite being significantly wealthier than his opponents in the Senate race. In a March interview with the Bangor Daily News, King refuted the idea that he is an elitist.
“I don’t drink wine, I don’t know what brie is, I bowl every Thursday night and my idea of fun is to go RVing,” he said, referencing the cross-country RV trip he took shortly after leaving the office of governor.
Monday, King roared off on his Harley Davidson motorcycle heading south on U.S. Route 1 along the St. John River on his way to his first night’s stop in Calais.
Over the next several days, King’s campaign ride will take him through Down East Maine on his way to Bangor, on to Bethel and ending up in Kittery.
“To be honest, a big part of why I’m doing this is it’s fun,” the longtime motorcyclist said. “Maine is really a big small town and [meeting people] is the part of the campaign I love.”
Calling himself a “congenital optimist,” King said he has seen first hand what an effective and cooperative federal legislature is capable of doing.
“I worked as a staff member with a legislative committee in the 1970s,” he said. “I saw [how] the Senate worked with my own two eyes, [and] I saw how people who may have had different ideas work things out.”
King said he wants to bring that spirit of cooperation back to Washington, D.C., noting he decided to run for “the mirror image” reason Snowe is leaving office.
“She left because it was no longer working,” he said. “I want to try to make it work.”
With issues like the national debt, health care and the economy high on his priority list, King said he is under no illusions the role he will have or the daunting tasks facing the next Congress.
“Americans are always looking for a silver bullet to fix things,” he said. “It’s been my experience we need to look for silver buckshot [because] there are many solutions needed to solve our problems.”
King’s complete motorcycle campaign ride schedule is available at angus2012.com/motorcycle-tour/