BANGOR, Maine — The heir wannabe to Republican U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe’s mantle of moderation and the former mill worker from East Millinocket promoted their positions Thursday in the final 2nd Congressional District debate before Nov. 6.
Speaking at Husson University in an event hosted by the Maine Public Broadcasting Network, U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-East Millinocket, touted himself as an effective fighter for Maine’s unique interests while state Senate President Kevin Raye promised that he would break gridlock in Washington, D.C.
The debate differed from the candidates’ previous tangles in that each blamed the other for campaign’ attack ads containing misinformation. The personal criticism was a first. Michaud’s touted his record, using his lists of accomplishment to cover a somewhat halting speaking style, while Raye offered more personal anecdotes, and more of the philosophy of moderation that he said underlined his accomplishments.
Michaud hit what was perhaps the evening’s most bizarre note when he admitted that a photograph of a kitchen supposedly at the State House featured in an ad attacking Raye for overspending was actually a fake ― a stock shot of a kitchen, not the real deal.
Raye lambasted Michaud for his campaign’s fakery, and Michaud responded that he wished his staff could have gotten a shot of the actual kitchen. That, he said, would have really outraged voters.
A Perry resident who co-owns a mustard factory, Raye said that his senatorial colleagues voted him the Republican most likely to change the minds of Democrats. His 17 years on the politically moderate Snowe’s staff showed him the importance of working with political opponents, he said.
“That has defined what I have been about in Augusta. I want to take that same spirit to Washington,” Raye said during the debate, which was broadcast live.
Michaud said his record of fighting for veterans, senior citizens and Maine businesses such as New Balance shows that he answer Mainers’ needs.
“I am not in Washington to cave to special interests or to make headlines,” Michaud said. “I am there for one reason” — to fight for Maine’s interests.
Michaud said he supported the Affordable Care Act. He opposed vouchers for Medicare and favored allowing it to negotiate for prescription drugs.
The health-care act is “a good basis to move forward,” Michaud said, adding that Snowe’s staff criticized Republican opposition to it because the act has many initiatives favored by Republicans. Attempting an appeal would probably backfire and cause great economic uncertainty, he said.
Raye said he opposes “Obamacare” and decried how conversations about preserving Medicare get immediately turned into political weapons against those who dare to discuss possible changes to the program.
Like the Medicare debate, national energy policy questions also get swallowed by the “polarization and paralysis” of Washington that never afflicted state politics during his tenure at the State House, Raye said.
“We have a bounty of natural resources that we have chosen not to use,” Raye said, adding that he supports tidal electricity projects in Washington County and wants to see national energy policy reflect “the full range” of alternative energy options.