LEWISTON, Maine — U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud focuses on veterans and what his campaign calls his strong support of them in the first paid television advertisement of his effort to get re-elected in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District.
“The intent is going to be to run on Mike’s record. Mike has a good record in a lot of areas and certainly he does in the area of veterans,” Michaud campaign spokesman Dan Cashman said Tuesday. “This is something that we thought was an important story that should be told.”
Michaud’s Republican challenger, Maine Senate President Kevin Raye of Perry, unveiled his first TV ad of the campaign last week. Raye’s campaign consultant, Kathie Summers-Grice, said she believed that Michaud’s ad is a reaction to the success of Raye’s first television spot.
“I think this shows that they see this as a game changer. Kevin clearly has the momentum right now. They needed to get Mike up on the air and they have led with what they believe is Mike’s strongest point,” Summers-Grice said.
Michaud launched the ad on his own schedule, not in response to Raye’s, Cashman said. The 30-second spot features veterans praising the East Millinocket Democrat for working to establish or expand medical clinics in Houlton, Lincoln, Bangor and Lewiston-Auburn. The ad will run in all three Maine TV markets — Bangor, Presque Isle and Portland. It resembles but is not precisely the same as an ad that ran in 2010, Cashman said.
Lincoln’s clinic opened in 2007 and serves more than 1,000 veterans. The Lewiston-Auburn clinic was built this year. Bangor’s clinic was expanded in 2010. Houlton’s clinic is associated with a hospital there and is open one day a week
Besides directly addressing a large audience — among Maine counties, Washington County has the most veterans per capita — the advertisement underscores Michaud’s service as the ranking member on the health subcommittee of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. Michaud’s work for veterans goes far beyond the clinics, according to his campaign.
The U.S. House passed a series of veterans bills in July, including one sponsored by Michaud intended to at least partially plug a gap in medical care reimbursement rates that cost severely injured vets individually as much as $45,000 annually. The higher reimbursement rate goes to veterans homes that care for severely disabled and elderly veterans.
The National Association of State Veterans Homes named Michaud its legislator of the year for that effort. Michaud began working on the bill in 2009. He and U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins successfully pressed the Department of Veterans Affairs in May to keep open a mobile clinic in Bingham.
In 2008, Michaud helped pass legislation that created Project ARCH, or Access Received Closer to Home, which designated Cary Medical Center in Caribou as one of five ARCH sites nationwide. The site saved many veterans from having to drive hundreds of miles for care.
“The point of the ad is not to target one specific demographic, but to remind voters about some of the successes that Mike has had,” Cashman said, calling veterans issues “one of his major successes. He has been unwavering in his support.”
Raye’s first TV advertisement, Summers-Grice said, highlights Raye’s strongest point — his concerns for the state economy, his ownership of a small business, and the state senator’s economic initiatives that have helped create jobs in Maine.
“In an election that’s really all about jobs,” she said, the two advertisements “speak volumes about where the two campaigns are.”
Raye has also worked for veterans, Summers-Grice said. A measure of the esteem veterans have for him is his being the only state legislative leader to address the American Legion State Convention three of the past four years, she said.
As Senate president, Raye offered legislation to create a special driver’s license for Maine veterans to help them prove eligibility for veterans privileges or services. He sponsored a law requiring the Maine Bureau of Veterans Services to plan for the inventory and proper care of veterans’ graves.
Raye also helped pass a supplementary budget that will exempt veterans from paying Maine income tax on active duty military pay earned outside of Maine. That will go into effect after Jan. 1, 2014, Summers-Grice said.
His assistance on veterans issues will be something the Raye campaign focuses on more as the campaign progresses, she said.